It’s all shades of gray, really. Often-times folks from the coastal community ask me how in the world you could stand to live in the Ozarks, home of cousin-fornication and three teeth per capita. People in the Ozarks ask how could someone stand to live in California, home of such insane luminaries as San Fran Gran Nan Pelosi and 800 square foot homes that retail for $800,000. Both sides are correct, of course. And both are horribly mistaken.
I have no cousins here in the Midwest, so I suppose that option is out. I have all my teeth and an affordable mortgage on some acreage. I love the coast, and grew up living there, despite the cost of living and without bestowing voting rights on my goldfish. The humidity here sucks, the cost there sucks. The seafood there is fresh and plentiful and here people seem to have a concern for others beyond the bare narcissistic minimums. And they have Starbucks in both locations.
One place I don’t know if I could ever really adjust to is the desert locales through which I-40 rambles from here to there. NOTHING is out there. If dirt and lizards are your thing, you’ll not be disappointed, but I was struck how lonesome and desolate most of the communities are along the way. People who lived along the corridor displayed an affinity for gathering old buses, trailers, busted minutiae and detritus they could scatter around their dwellings. It seems like an awfully hardscrabble way to make it through life. No greenery, no trees, no rain, nothing but bitter dust and wind always, the wind. When population monitors screech like howler monkeys about the number of people on this planet, I often wonder if they’ve ever been out in New Mexico or Arizona and gazed into the desolation. I’m pretty sure Mars has better lawns.
I have several friends who love to travel to the desert. These are people who, in my opinion, need to be institutionalized. Brewing soup in my shorts while admiring rocks and far-off mesas seems catastrophic at best. I’ve come to love the wild swings in weather we have out here in Missouri, if for no other reason than they parallel the inconsistency with which I approach each day. To know that tomorrow’s forecast will be “hot, again. Hot and dry. Really, really, really hot and exceptionally dry, to be honest” is akin to a death sentence of monotony.
My hyper-caffeinated brain needs constant short-attention span stimulation, whereas the desert highways are a lesson in long sessions of isolated monotony. This might work if I was a Buddhist trying to calm my soul, but the fact remains that I function in a different shade of gray. So a trip across the high plains with me is a spectacle of watching me thrash around the cab of the car, mumbling and rambling and throwing items all over. Spazing my way across I-40, that’s how my family witnessed it.
We really should do this vacation thing more often.