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It’s been hard to write lately. Bit of a drought. Sitting in the car listening to an audiobook, pondering an impossibly blue sky.

It’s been twenty years exactly since my last cross-country drive. Phoenix to Peterborough in just under three days. Me in a little white Corolla getting knocked around by passing semis, seeing the snow-capped mountains up north, Meteor Crater (up close it’s no different from any other great hole in the ground), the rounded contours of New Mexico’s sandstone cliffs, Texas Texas Texas.

Oklahoma smelled like cowshit from the Texas border to Missouri. This was all in the days before GPS and Google Maps. I had a AAA triptych, as it was called, and less than $300 to my name–and that was borrowed from Mom to make the trip home.

Home. I spent half my life to that point in New Hampshire, and it never felt like home. I had idealized Phoenix as my long-lost belonging place. Then I moved back there. Like most places made of “developments,” carved out of the earth and pre-washed with strip-mall bonhomie to pretend it was there all along and not simply set up to exchange cash for the fiction we call existence (fuck you, I’m on a roll here), Phoenix is a soulless city. It’s all too new, and too obvious in its pretense of having an identity. Tucson has more soul– more character. Or maybe it’s that the street names don’t stay consistent. It was cobbled together like Boston and New York. Not a rigid plan like Phoenix.

Anyway, it was not home. Neither was Peterborough. Or Tucson. Or maybe they all are, since they each feel like putting on a well-worn pair of sneakers, or an old jacket.

Home like love and self is just an illusion. A state of mind, just like everything else.

I do miss that ride though. Twenty years on, riding into uncertain certainty, starting again, nothing but the endless road ahead. I do miss that ride.

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