I had been driving for four straight hours before I decided I needed a rest. There’s only so much Red Bull you can drink before you start to feel like you’re going crazy. The drive up until then had been relatively uneventful, the only surprises I had had were when I drove past a sign that read “Welcome to Mississippi” and then a few hours later I drove past another sign that read “Welcome to Alabama”. I had thought that the drive up to Nashville was a straight shot from Louisiana directly to Tennessee, that should give you an idea of the kind of planning that went into this trip.
But that was kind of the whole point of this trip. I just wanted to drive. I wanted to drive through beautiful country and go to places I hadn’t been before. This was not a trip about planning. It was a trip about doing. I wanted to do something. Something a little wild, a little crazy. So I took a month off of work from both my jobs and did just that. There was a great deal of trepidation doing this. After all, we all need to make money, right?
There was a movie I had in my head that kind of served as the theme of this trip. You can probably guess it by the title, the movie was Mad Max: Fury Road. Of course, there are some big differences between what I'm doing and what Max did in that movie. Like for instance, I'm not trying to save a bunch of sex slaves from a fascist dictator and his car gang of cronies. Well... maybe I am if we think of the sex slaves as a metaphor for my freedom and expiring youth and the fascist dictator as the system in place trying to grind me down to a nub and destroy my individuality. Oooh, I like that. Let's go with that.
In any case, I was grateful for the rest stop I came across somewhere in Northern Alabama. Not just because it gave me a chance to stretch my limbs and click my joints, but also because it was just so beautiful. Seriously. It may have been one of the most attractive rest stops I’ve ever seen. It had this huge lawn of thick luscious grass that was obviously well kept. And in this grass there were these giant pinewood trees peppered throughout. It all looked so nice that even though I still had another four hours at least of driving ahead of me, I decided I would get out my notebook, take a seat at one of the idyllic picnic tables, and write a page or two. A writer's got to write when he feels inspired. That's rule one right there.
I didn’t want to be around anyone, it’s no fun to write when you can be bothered by other people’s conversations, so when I saw the family at the table nearest to me I walked past them, headed towards a picnic table at the far end of the lawn, which was wholly vacant. But then that nearby table with the family called out to me, and everything suddenly changed.
“Hey Mr. Randy!”
There is only one type of person that calls me Mr. Randy. My students. As a part time gig I teach a class for acting and improv to first and second graders. Now, one of those first or second graders was waving and smiling at me in the middle of nowhere Alabama. It was a surreal moment to say the least.
For a few seconds, I tried to do the math on the odds of me bumping into someone I know here at this rest stop 350 miles away from town, but then my head started to hurt so I decided to just enjoy the moment instead.
My student was with her parents. They were smiling too. We were all smiling. It was just so crazy. It must have taken a full minute or two of goofy smiling and repeating the expression “How crazy is this?” before we actually began a real conversation.
In this conversation they told me that they were off on a family road trip to see an aunt… or an uncle, I really can’t remember. In this conversation I told them that my gig as a camp blogger had just ended so I decided to just spend the entire month of August traveling, so that’s why I just got in my car and started driving. I also told them that to do this I had to call off work from my other job, as a tour guide. I also told them about my other job as a improv teacher. I told them I’m doing these random jobs to pay the bills until my writing starts to pay. I rambled about all of this for some time. And when I stopped they smiled and nodded their heads.
I think they wondered why I didn’t have a family or a real job, but I can’t be sure, I tend to project these kind of things on certain types of people. You know, people who have the whole family and security thing going on. I just assume they think I'm a piece of shit for not having any of this. It's safer to think this way.
In any case, my student was thrilled to see me, so that was nice.
Back on the road, I focused on getting to my destination. Nashville. Nashville was going to be wild. Not necessarily because of the town itself, which I knew little about other than that it was a big town for country music, but because the person I would be staying with, Reilly, was a person I had a long history with. He's certainly a friend, in fact it's passed that at this point, he's practically a brother. But he's also a madman, just like me. And when madmen get together after years apart, who knows what's gonna happen.
As the sun began to set, I put on the song "Spikey Cars" on my Ipod. It's a song from the Mad Max Soundtrack. You know the parts of the movie where the action and insanity is just peaking and there's that song that just takes it to the new level? That's "Spikey Cars". I highly recommend giving it a listen if haven't. Especially if you're driving down a long highway to an unfamiliar city where guaranteed madness awaits you. It really completes the moment.