Saturday, July 07, 2007


I've been through the Rockie Mountains once.... well, twice: there and back. I was eighteen and coming off a year long post-religious coversion high. It must have been the altitude, but once the other side of those mountains, which we crossed in the night, I was able to cut some of the ties that bind. Blessed be the ties that bind... what does that mean?

I was raised by a pentecostal mother. For those of you who don't know what that means, I will say more. For those of you who do... nuff said. The mandate for evidence is strong in that arm of Christianity: speaking in tongues, being "slain" in the spirit (the rolling part of holy rolling) and overall rejection of anything that might be considered worldly. Temporal. Secular. Books. When my son was five or nine (time collapses) I sent him to church one Sunday morning with his Grandmother (Whether to save his soul, mine, or to get him out from underfoot is unclear some 20 years later) and when he returned, he said, "Gramma fell down in church, but that's okay--God made her." The expectation for me to align myself with the family religion was strong. And I aimed to please as a lifestyle back then. So there I was, ripe for the picking.

Why am I talking about this shit?

Because the last time I crossed the Rockies, I was under the influence of an almost cultish arm of Christianity.

Now, I remain faithful to many of those tenets. I do. I like Jesus and always have. But the behavioral piece always eluded me. So many don'ts. Never was there a religion with more things not to do every day, or it may have appeared that way to me because I was doing so many of them on a daily basis. A better person may have looked at my list and nodded, saying, "Well, of course. This makes perfect sense. Any sane person would never..." fill in the blank.

But, as you may have extracted from these pearls over the years, sanity is overrated.

So there we were in the rockies: me and a couple of sinners, two kids and two dogs in a 73 Impala, trying to cross Lolo Pass in a blizzard. Not just a snowstorm -- a blizzard: snow piling up at a visible rate and us without chains or brains. I was praying, as I was prone to do back then, when God sent a snowplow driver. Einstein said that the proof of God's existence is not miracles, but the absence of miracles. I agree. That guy was just working at his job: a night snow plow driver in the rockie mountains. A lonely post, for certain.

We were hippies, myself, at that discreet point in time, a non-sinning hippie, but we all had that look. The snowplow driver, in Montana in 1971, wasn't a fan. But we did have the kids and dogs for added value, and eventually he came back with some gas. Did I mention that we ran out of gas cresting the summit? Well, we did. Big planners, hippies.

So, he saved us. God in an old orange jumpsuit with a fur hood. We rolled into Lolo Montana at 4:00 a.m. and at his encouragement, kept on rolling. It wasn't until Minnesota (Carly Simon singing "I've Got to Have You" from the radio of that Impala, me in the backseat, big Minnesota starry night out in some beet field) that I fell off the wagon (jumped, more like it) and rolled to the curb, where I remained for the ensuing 17 years.

So I wonder what our trip will be like. This whole story was really just about wondering if our road trip will be a spiritual experience. Raised in the Pentecostal faith, I have (perhaps until this moment) viewed that trip as the beginning of the end. The original backslide, from which I have since been sliding. Belief is difficult. I have the beliefs that were given to me. I have tried to outrun them, but they remain embedded.

It is saturday morning and we are going to rent a U-haul trailer, I guess, to tow all of our gear so we can sleep in the back of the truck. I will spend the weekend sorting and packing and preparing for the unpreparable: a road trip. Was a time I threw my laundry in a garbage bag, grabbed my leather jacket and stuck my thumb out. Life is so complicated with money.


asha said...

Have fun. That's what the hell it's all about!

Roy said...

After much deliberation, lasting from about 1969 to 2001, I have to agree with Asha. Now that's two sinners heard from...

someone said...

I think I will.

asha said...

Welcome to the wild side, Roy. Remember, it was your decision.

Roy said...

Remember, it was your decision.

I am not responsible. I am just a leaf on the water.

msb said...

I love road trips. I think money is not the complicater but age adds so many what ifs to it all. What if I forget my... and last time would have been better had I brought the... Last road trip (last week) I even brought my mattress. had many a scandalous thought until I remembered I was 55.

Anonymous said...

Lynn sends you her hello's. this sounded just like you, J. right off the cuff, could have been an old letter. i like the part where the pick up is where you sleep; proof that the money has not yet ruint ya!