It’s midnight, and I’m sitting on a porch swing in East Bakersfield. I can see the highway from here. It’s mostly trucks. Some nights I can see smoke billowing out of the stacks from the carrot plant, but not tonight. Across the way, there’s a man with a cigarette in his left hand and a hose in his right. He’s not watering his lawn or washing his car. He’s just spraying down his dirt so it won’t blow around in the wind. He’s got two trailers, one vacant, one occupied, and two trucks, both Fords, both functional.
I’ve put in about two thousand miles of driving in the last two months, all of it in California and most of it in the country. I do this because I’ll go crazy if I don’t. I’ll forget where I am and reduce all my beliefs into negotiable abstractions that can be torn down by somebody with a sufficiently authoritative tone of voice. I can’t hold any beliefs if I can’t see the sprawl of my stomping grounds once in awhile.