The Vagabond Novelist, in addition to speaking in the third person, has been going full steam for a long time. It started a couple of weeks before Day 1 when he was excited to get to Tin Valley Retro Rentals and spend some time in a school bus.
Okay, I really don’t like third person that much, but I do like saying The Vagabond Novelist. It makes me happy. I digress.
The plan for Day 11 (and the following days) was to decompress and do laundry. It’s hard to decompress with a looming underwear crisis on one’s mind.
I’ve been learning that I like tea. This is a new development that started at the end of March. The laundry place in Alpine was attached to a coffee shop, so after I got the clothes in the washer, I went for a chai latte — my first.
Both my author buddy Honorée and my assistant Laurie like tea a bunch. I’ve been consulting with them on the subject and have learned that the types of teas vary wildly. Exploring tea while I explore the world has a certain symmetry to it that I like. The chai latte was delicious and I’m adding it to my growing list of favorites.
- Chai latte
- Earl Grey
I haven’t tried many yet.
It was a little after noon when I started heading south. The road has always had its own siren call to me since reading Kerouac’s On The Road. Highway 118 south to Terlingua, Texas was melodic in its beauty.
My mind tried to make a list of things I wanted to do once I got to the bus. It was shorter than the tea list by two. I just couldn’t imagine doing anything once I got there. An ancient voice steeped in literary hyperbole persuaded me it would be too beautiful to do anything but sit and enjoy.
That’s what I did for three days.
I sat. When I got hungry, I ate, but I didn’t get hungry that often.
The desert is sparse and full at the same time. A sweeping glance gives the impression of nothingness. A closer look shows how wrong first impressions can be.
One doesn’t even need to look. Close your eyes in the evening, with the stars blazing across the sky, and listen. Off in the distance a wind is rolling through like a giant tumble weed. You hear it go past and listen as it heads up into the distant mountains. The rapid flutter of bat wings zip around overhead as they gobble up insects. Road runners chatter among themselves. And the coyotes sing the songs of their people. There are squawks, chirps, and howls throughout the night. It’s lovely.
When there isn’t anyone to talk with one doesn’t talk. I was awake for nearly twelve hours and realized I hadn’t said a word all day. If you know me, that’s a strange thing. I’m chatty.
As I looked up at the mountain behind the bus, my only thought was this is nearly perfect. It would be nice to have a vagabond girlfriend to share it with, but I wasn’t complaining.
A figure appeared to my right. A furry butterscotch cat was looking at me as if to say, “The universe said you wanted someone to chat with?” or perhaps, “I’m here to make you do my bidding.”
It wasn’t long before I was doing both.
I would pet for a while. The cat would purr. Something interesting would grab his attention and he would hop down and investigate. A short while later he’d be back for more chin scratches.
When I finally went to bed, the cat was off doing cat things. I got settled in and heard a squeak at the bus door. I opened it and butterscotch cat scrambled up the stairs and made straight for the bed. There would be another forty-five minutes of playtime before he hopped down and curled up on the floor.
When morning arrived he let me capture a couple photos of him and he was off.
In the twenty-four hours since I’d left Alpine, three days had passed. That’s life in the desert.