I love to walk, ride or drive with no particular destination in mind.
Some would say I write the same way. There’s truth in that.
Yesterday, I took a few hour drive through the countryside; I love to see the fields and forests dressed for autumn. I started down a familiar highway, then took a random turn. Within 45 minutes, I was traveling through a series of hills I’d never seen before.
I stopped to park at a scenic overlook – which I recognized as such because of the helpful sign there that said “SCENIC OVERLOOK” – and, after snapping a few pictures, pulled out my tablet to get caught up on other Poblano posts.
My reading is like my driving: I never know what I’ll see that will move me. Several of my fellow Peppers have become favorite bloggers of mine these last few weeks. In some ways, every set of eyes sees an entirely different world.
I also check the Facebook feeds, there are posts there I missed on the WP list. I enjoy the interplay there, though I rarely join in.
Another car pulls into the three parking spots that constitute the scenic overlook. From it, a young couple emerge who look like fitness models. The man looks at my rather endomorphic form with a disgusted glance that says
“Junk food. Poor guy is probably hopped up on Funyuns.”
Which sounds like a good idea to me, so I get back in my car and head down the highway in search of a convenience store.
I have this weird sort of fondness for convenience stores. For any of you who may live in other countries, what Americans call “convenience stores” are gas stations (usually) that also sell miscellaneous retail items, the most popular of which are cigarettes, lottery tickets, and beer. I never buy any of these things, except gas for my car. Convenience stores have become decidedly inconvenient since they started selling lottery tickets, as people can spend ten minutes picking out which games they want to throw their money away on. I typically buy things like soft drinks and snacks — including, on rare occasions, the aforementioned Funyuns.
In the area of the country I live in, many convenience stores have kitchens in them and serve various types of country cooking – and not necessarily this country, either. The store I find about ten miles away from the scenic overlook has Rajasthani cuisine, and it smells amazing. You might not think to drive to some unnamed town on the Florida-Alabama border to get Indian food, but there it is, and there I am, and it’s delicious.
“Dal-baati-churma” it’s called. I sit down in the little eating area, and watch the other customers.
I time one woman, who takes eight and one half minutes to complete all her lottery purchases. Another man has a long (but cordial) discussion with the woman behind the counter about the high price of cigarettes – which I’m relatively sure she can do nothing about – but he decides to buy them anyway, as I suspected he would. The woman behind the counter is very beautiful, by the way; not young, but beautiful in a careworn sort of way.
I am that guy who thinks all women are beautiful.
A man sits down in the booth next to me to eat, and immediately strikes up a conversation.
“Never seen you here before.”
“Yeah, I live up 331. Just out driving.”
“The food here’s addictive, although I still have no idea what’s in it.”
“How long have they been serving it?”
“This place served fried chicken and fish up to last year. The Johnston’s, who owned it for years, sold it to the new owners.”
“Are the new owners Indian?”
“No, no. They’re Mexican. But a friend of theirs runs the kitchen.”
I’ll have to put that on the blog. I believe I know at least one Mexican-Indian-American, although, if memory serves, she’s also part dinosaur.
Darkness fell well before I made it home. Turning onto the street our house is on, I realized that wandering, for me, is like writing, part of the balance I must strike between “making a living” and actually living. Tomorrow, I will be back at work, earning the money my family needs, and that’s okay. Not all who love the wandering life have the same luxury; as I didn’t, at one point in my life.
“Have you ever heard of ‘Dal-baati-churma’?” I ask my wife.
“Heavens, where did you drive today?” she asks.
For Nano Poblano this year, I’m trying a prose post a day instead of my usual work in poetry. Thanks for reading. – S.B.