I start Day One by waking up far too early to think, and asking myself if I am ready for a road trip across the country. I might as well have asked myself how many angels can dance on the head of the pin for how well equipped I feel to answer this.
I fly from New York to Norfolk, Virginia to pick up my car, which I have left packed with all of my expensive goodies in an airport lot for two weeks. I miss a connecting flight and fall dead asleep in the airport for hours under the dubious protection of a blaze-orange hunting cap. Finally arriving in Norfolk, I find that I have lost my car, endure the embarrassment of having security locate it for me, and experience the queasy relief of finding that it has not been stolen, it is just that I am that forgetful. I often misplace my keys, my wallet, and my camera, and now I find I can extend this practice to much larger objects as well. Things are already not going as planned, and I am now wondering if the whole trip is going to unfold as a series of mishaps.
I get into my car, and take a deep breath. Although I do not know who I am addressing this to, I clasp my hands and recite my car-traveler's prayer, which I make up on the spot:
I have honed my ability to roll with the punches
Give me more rolling than punches
My first stop is to meet my friend Edward outside of Richmond. In true epic-journeying style, as Perseus received the mirror, the enchanted sack, and Pegasus; and as Dorothy received the ruby slippers; and as every hero on a mission receives some charmed object to accompany them through hardship and adventure, Edward sends me on with a bag of dried apples, a container of boiled collard greens, and four bottles of Schlitz.
Talismen thereby obtained, I continue on to Richmond to retrieve Micah. Then there is copious driving, but not along the Blue Ridge Parkway as we expected, because of a rockslide separating us from our destination. The mountains cabin we stay in is cozy and fireplace-heated, and would have been a wonderful way to end the first day of our roadtrip, except that it was filled with the unmistakable scent of natural gas, and therefore threatened us with its impending explosion.
We share a Schlitz and eat collard greens sandwiches, to prove to ourselves once and for all that collard greens were never meant to be served like this.
I open the windows and keep one eye on the fire all night.
Music: Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound, Hank Williams, Jr.