I’m not physically tired from my trip, but lord, my soul is tired. I’ve spent all day just going to the park, building a fire, and reading the new Greil Marcus book about The Doors. And I keep having to remind myself that I need to do a small load of laundry. But my brain is just shot.
My parents, for some reason I don’t quite understand, have decided that they are not going to travel I40 between Knoxville and Asheville, if they can help it. So on the way over, we got on 70 at Knoxville. On the way home, we went up Future 26, which gave me a little anxiety attack. Not because it’s a particularly hard road to drive. They’ve done a fine job of putting an interstate through the mountains that doesn’t make you fear for your life. But the size of the mountains and the size of the interstate draped along them like some kind of artistic counterpoint… I don’t know. It was like an existential anxiety attack. I felt small and meaningless and like I couldn’t be sure I could keep the van from trying to respond to the awesomeness with some bold statement of its own.
Believe me when I tell you I wanted to get out of the van and make sweet love to I-81, so smooth and rolling, passing through beautiful vistas between Johnson City and Knoxville, but without the added fear of death. I swear, if it weren’t for fear of the witch-trial those East Tennessee Republicans would have had after the troopers caught me naked and smiling in the median, I would have. I will also say that Johnson City seems to have a Dairy Queen to person ratio of that approaching what Heaven must have. Is that the most Dairy Queen having city in the nation? And, if so, is it a consolation prize? You couldn’t be the capitol of Franklin, Johnson City, but here, have all the Dairy Queens.
The fire has this liquid sound I find kind of hits me in the gut. It’s like fire is how you reveal wood’s water nature. No wonder alchemists thought they could turn lead into gold. Isn’t everything somehow hiding great transformations?
Once, in college, I heard a song. Just once. But it was catchy. I thought it went “I paint a design on the sign for you, mister.” I would sing it to myself sometimes, just to remind myself of the catchy song I heard once in college, in the dark, in my dorm room, the one with the hexagon window.
Today, I thought, “I could google that.” So I did. And I found it! He only says “I paint a design on the side for you, mister,” but it was enough to stick in my head, apparently. The song is even better than I could have hoped. It’s about a guy who paints the sides of vans. And right in the middle of this silly song is a verse that will kind of catch at the back of your throat, about how he was painting the bridge during an earthquake. Like, wow, yeah, everyone has shit.
I know that’s not a very profound thought. But I’m tired.
Anyway, here it is. Michael Hurley singing “I Paint a Design.” Really, it’s as if the internet exists to make sure less is lost.