27 november 2004

i left my neighborhood and drove through the streets of chicago, stopping at each stop light and hitting so many of the potholes and metal plates down pulaski avenue. i needed to fill the gas tank and i found an inexpensive station on the southside, not far from the onramp to i-55.

i drove some interstate highways on my route to iowa, but i tried to avoid them. i knew from the beginning that this old vehicle wouldn't like the ultrasonic speeds that seem the norm on interstates (70, 80, sometimes 90 miles per hour), but this fact remained obvious when i found myself chugging down an four-lane artery heading out of chicago. each semi that passed me on my left shook the chinook from side to side. i felt like airplanes were swooping around me.

before even reaching Joliet, i got off that highway and found route 126, a smaller highway that put me through Plainfield, then turned straight west on 34 and drove through a small town called Sandwich. i fell into a strange trance, something that made time and distance fly by. before i knew it, just sitting on that route 34, i had reached the border to iowa. driving is a meditation, and i had meditated clear across the state of Illinois. unfortunatly route 34 ended and i was forced to get back on an interstate highway, and try to go a little faster in order to get to Iowa City before too long. it was already two pm and i needed to get to my grandmother's house by five.

in Iowa City, i met my friend rachel and i followed behind her truck while she led me to her house. she has four cats. when she took my cats in, they had to stay in her bedroom so as not to mingle with the other cats. she didn't think her cats would be too kind to strangers. earlier, when i was driving to Iowa, the cats were mostly silent. adventure looked out the window often, just watching the scenery pass by. thelonius appeared sad and reserved. he would let out a long meeeooow from time to time, letting me know he missed home.

i sped away from Iowa City, needing to get to Keokuk in under two hours. we had dinner reservations for six at the local country club where the chef was preparing a vegan dish for yours truly. i pushed the truck to sixty miles per hour, and it handled fine, but this certainly wasn't the ideal cruising speed. i made it to Keokuk by 5:50.

on my way, i stopped to refuel. when i left the station, i looked west and saw an unusual sunset. it was a particular mixture of red & bright pink that i have never seen before--a vibrancy that appeared almost to be on fire behind cracks of clouds. i immediately wanted you in the car with me to witness this. i wanted you to experience more than this photograph. at that moment, thinking of you was happiness.

i drove on, heading south and keeping the speedometer steady. i hope you and dwyer and donya had a good time ice skating. donya said she wasn't so good, so i pictured dwyer doing spins and leaps and donya on her butt, you somewhere in between.

i'm heading north to Minnesota tomorrow. it will be a long drive. the cats should keep me company along the way. emily doesn't know i'm coming. i hope she's home.

xoxo nicolas.