Wednesday, August 28, 2013

If The Aliens Don't Get You ... Fear The Frogs

Stories From The Road
July 8, 2013

We pulled into Roswell, NM last night. Three fourths tank of gas. Exhausted beyond immediate repair (see previous Post for road trauma).

Our greeting in the Little Green Peep's Town?

Every. Hotel. BOOKED!

Well, almost every hotel. The Super 8 with a strategically placed spaceship out front for gawking alien fan seekers had a single double room. The mighty Ford Focus rolled to a dusty stop, and my knees noticeably crackled on exit from the vehicle. As I approached the Main Office, a fellow guest opened the glass door and out hops ... frogs!

Yes, it's beyond late-ish. I'm beyond melted from the running on empty gas fiasco. And now, I have touched down where frogs are leaping along as an eerie omen.

I chalk it up to another day on the road and make my way inside. Careful not to slip on the water spotted floor. Not careful enough.

"I'm cool," I say, in mid-slide.

The clerk has an accent that makes me think India, but who knows. He's a nice enough guy. Smiles through awkward forced politeness. It's late. We're both tired. And there had just been frogs in the lobby (neither one of us acknowledges this formally).

The room rate is all wrong for the one star stay, but I have to get out of the Ford Focus before I stretch my limits of sanity. The clerk and I smile once more. This last one more genuine.


The hallway of the Super 8 is a graveyard of television consoles and cheap discount furniture. A murky haze seizes the air. A combination of cigarette smoke and mildew fuse with the green tint of cheap florescent lighting. I am apologetic to the camera person. What else can I say besides "sorry" and "this sucks" and "I'll pre-plan the next stop more carefully."

Although we both know we'll end up in a dive like this sooner rather than later. The lip service acts as a needed filler after our day.

Our room is spacious enough. So much so, that I suspect some of our furniture is decoration for the hall. I flop on the bed and imagine stars where there is bumpy ceiling. I imagine the smell of the Gulf of Mexico as opposed to moth balls and urine.

I imagine that I'm not there but in a room full of kids, and we're writing about this as opposed to me living it for the remainder of the night. But I'm there. At the Super 8. In Roswell, NM. During the BIGGEST celebration of the year (Roswell - a Great Place to Crash) where all the hotels except one is booked. I pass out fully dressed and on top of the bed spread. It's probably better that way.


I wake up to light pouring in from the mangled hotel room curtain. For a moment, I think I'm in Cincinnati, Ohio. The reality rushes in quickly, and I gather some spare change and the room key to search for a free Continental Breakfast.

Children play on the hall furniture. Some version of aliens and cowboys (I mean, we are in Roswell). I jog down the tattered carpeted stairs and step into the Sunny Delight knock off juice bar. Coffee that I don't drink and suspect many of the other guests won't either. Everywhere is sugar and more sugar. I scrounge up a piece of wheat toast, a cup of H2O and Raisin Bran. They're out of milk, so I pour water over it.

My camera person has emerged, and we're feeling the weight of travel but maintaining some level of poise. She has encouraged me to review the map and just as I do the T.V. announces a plane crash in San Francisco, CA.

I'm no longer interested in the map as I watch the accident play out on CNN. Sleep deprived and protein defincient, I get lost in the smoke and charred fuselage. When my eyes fall off the television to the guests laughing, chatting and chewing on cheap pastries, I feel a swell of something thick in my throat. Aren't they seeing? Watching? Feeling?

Something in me locks onto the guest who seem to have a defined disregard for the tragedy playing out in High Definition. Had tragedy become so ordinary? And while I knew the answer something was on recycle in my brain.

That was someone's someone on that plane. In every seat.

I look over my shoulder. The clerk who checked me in stands by a woman I decide is his wife. They're watching the T.V. The way someone watches something completely. The clerk looks at me and tries to smile, but the effort escapes the intention. It escapes mine as well and we have one of those brief, cinematic-like moments where we both feel wrung out from loss that becomes featured in Headline News or The New York Times. Wrung out that there is so much hurt in the world.

And here I am in Roswell, NM in route to California to do my small way of plugging what would seem a Titanic like leak in the youth of America, I wonder what the hell am I doing? Am I serious about this endeavor? I got car issues and traffic issues and storm issues and um, yeah, death issues. Here I am surfing on no financial support from the publishing house because that's just the reality of things. Praying that the money raised on Kickstarter ($2,500 dollars short) will be enough to get me at least back to Cincinnati, Ohio. Hoping that my camera person in-training is getting at least half of the footage in focus, so I can show the importance of creative mentors in our communities and I AM taking a risk outside my comfort zone to infinity and beyond times pi. Because I honest believe with all that is within me that a creative mentor can generate impact -- that art saves. That the world can be better. And that maybe the Titanic sized leak can be soldered.

My camera person asks if I'm okay. No, I think. I'm not okay. I'm awake and that's better than okay. That's got potential.

We schlep our belongings downstairs, check out at the front desk and once again, I play the packing the car Tetris game. As we pull out of Roswell, NM, I say a prayer for the people on Asiana Airlines flight 214. I extend kindness for those who survived and hope for those who lost someone. Hope that they can not simply survive but live in the wake of such loss. 

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