It’s been said before, and probably more poetically, but these United States are vast. Having gotten back late last night from a research trip that took me through Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, I can confirm this firsthand. (Texas was on the original itinerary but got dropped after I developed a twitch in my left eyelid from staring at the road for too long.)
Since I want to reserve my creative energies for the book itself, I won’t spend a lot of time recounting the trip, except to say three things: 1) I’ve never seen anything in my life like those mountains. Opening up various sets of motel curtains to find them outside was like waking up on Mars, every time; 2) Two actual tumbleweeds blew across the highway in front of me near Twin Buttes East, NM; and 3) I may or may not have, but probably did, cover the interior of my rental car with tunafish juice and maple syrup.
Oh and also I got questioned by a cop outside Flagstaff, because apparently single women taking notes in the parking lot of a Valero gas station arouse suspicion. If you find yourself falling into that demographic group, be ready to answer some basic questions. (In his defense, I was wearing my little beggars’ gloves with the fingertips cut off. Also, the aforementioned tuna smell probably wasn’t helping my cause.) But I flashed him my best smile and asked lots of questions about the Belgian Malamute in the back of his patrol car, and he backed down. To be honest, I think he was trying to get rid of me by the end of our little chat. What can I say? I was pretty lonely by that point of the trip. Driving long stretches in the desert tends to make one crave basic human contact.
By the end I couldn’t wait to get back home. More specifically I was itching to return to my new happy place, the Writers Room of Boston. I joined this lovely space a couple months ago and haven’t looked back; it’s true what Virginia Woolf said, about every woman deserving a cubicle of her own, or something. Anyway while it lacks Las Vegas’s slots and showgirls, it’s full of good vibes and smart people. May this blog post serve as my pledge to tithe a portion of my book advance to them. (Get ready for that $100, WROB. My generosity is overwhelming, I know.) As for the remaining $50, Louis C.K. said it best: “The rest I will do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business.” Two words: Vegas. Manwhores.