Driving west is liberating. The vistas grow larger, the skies higher, the air drier. Claustrophobic greenery gives way to open plains, to stark plateaus, then finally to towering mountains. We left Georgia where bugs and snakes hide beneath vines and last year’s fallen leaves and entered a starker land where nothing is hidden, where the earth is fresh and clean, its mineral self laid bare.
We are tonight in Texas, the transition state, its eastern half part of the old south, its western half the entrance to the new west. Top soil a mile deep and rivers red with clay give way to bare rock and dry arroyos. I’m going home. I begin to breathe again. I feel lighter, unencumbered by the fecundity of fertile fields.
Tomorrow we will reach West Texas, a longer trek than the one today that took us through four states. I will stand in the parched parking lot of a cheap motel in Fort Stockton or Van Horn and stare at mountains a hundred miles away. My soul will be restored.
The first event is Thursday, a talk to the students at Ysleta High School, my alma mater in El Paso. The next day I sign books at the Palace Hotel in Silver City, New Mexico. In my mind, I am already there.