Saturday, May 22, 2010


We rolled into Memphis the day after a week of heavy rains. The river swelled against its banks, and again I had to fight the urge to leave the van, to leave my friends and just start walking towards the river, and keep walking until the muddy water covers my head.

“What’s with you?” Ty said, just after slapping me in the back of the head. “You look like a zombie.”
I turned towards him just as he lets loose with a manic giggle. Truth be told, Ty is the one that looks like a zombie. He’s been driving for the last six hours, a during which time I watched him consume two cans of red bull and eat two large Snickers bars. There’s only three living kids still traveling with us, and all three of them seem to regard ferrying the rest of us around the country as some sort of holy mission. There’s an odd sort of symmetry among the three—Ty, Chris and Kyle all wear hats or bandannas, all three have tattoos on their mountain-bike hardened calf muscles, muscles which are always visible because all three wear cargo shorts constantly. All three are addicted to the new Stone Sour CD (Ty, when the others are asleep, will sometimes put Hendrix’s “Valleys of Neptune” on the dashboard. They are the sort of athletic, easy going sort of guys that you can totally picture running two dozen miles over rough terrain to get medicine to an injured party lost in the woods. They are the guys you’d want with you in a fight.
“Sorry,” I said to Ty. “I’ll try and look more alive.”
Ty laughed his jangly laugh and tapped me on the back of the head again. Affectionately, I think. Ty was a basketball player; that’s what basketball players did on their way to the bench, tap each other on the head. Before my one-play football career with the Oakvale Badgers, I’d been a baseball player. I think the basketball guys had the better idea.
“We going to try and find Elvis?” Ty said. “I hear he's dead like you.”
“Funny,” I said. “I think his followers believe he never died, which is a little different.”
Ty shrugged. Kyle and Chris were helping our dead friends out of the van—for some reason they thought stretching was as beneficial for us as it was for them.
We made a few stops. Most everywhere we went people were supportive and kind. A girl gave Chris her phone number. An elderly couple brought three dead kids to us and asked that we take them with us, which we were glad to do. The girl who gave Chris her phone number painted a hot pink heart on the side of the van and I started thinking that the world had possibilities again.

We went to the Lorraine Hotel before we left town for D.C. The hotel is a museum now, and if you don’t know what it is and what happened there you need to look it up on Wikipedia. Hard to believe that happened within my mother’s lifetime.

On to Washington. Wish us luck.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I know it has been awhile since I've written last. Texas...things happened in Texas. I can't even put them into words yet that's how terrible they were. The images are there in my head, like they were etched there by a ragged fingernail, but my body and my hands resist pressing the keys that would turn those images into words.

Our first few stops in Texas were pleasant...but nothing had prepared us for what was going to happen. Nothing. The look in their eyes...

That was weeks ago. We--those few that remained--stopped in New Orleans afterwards and although that city opened its heart to us we really couldn't enjoy the hospitality. The news never reported what happened; the story was squelched. When we tried to explain no one could really understand what it was like. Not unless you were there. I called Phoebe, and told her as best I could what had happened. If I don't find the strength to write about it soon--or if something should happen to me--I've asked her to help me get the story out. But without Karen to help her, and with everything that is happening in Oakvale, and don't know that anyone would listen.

All I'll say now is that the little caravan that we had has now been reduced to one vehicle, our hand painted van. There's only a few of us still traveling; some went back to where they were from, others we had to leave in Texas. We had to leave them in Texas and they won't be returning.

"I'd almost forgotten what it was like to not exist," Darius, one of the guys who'd joined us in Denver said when we were miles away from the attack. It was the first thing that any of us had said in a few hours.

We're on our way to Memphis now, a stop I swore we'd make to help three of our brothers and sisters who need our help. We're doing almost all of our traveling now at night, and during the day we have to be careful where we park so that our living drivers can get some sleep in the van. The miles roll past and I'll think about people I thought I knew and then I'll wonder if they were ever really there at all.

I feel like my whole life right now is staring out a car window, looking for something that that I'll never find.