the bad place

the bad place

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Van of Constant Sorrow Part 2: Oblivion, Oblivion.

Even when I can feel every wall of the trash compactor that is my life pressing hopelessly in... I'm actually pretty damned good at falling asleep. Wherever and however.
The danger is and has always been in waking up. 
Turning over or getting up to pee... I have to be extremely mindful of remaining mindless. Because if I acknowledge even one of the thoughts that is swarming around my head... it's over. All of the failings and bills and loss and fuck ups that I've been swatting away will find that one little hole in the shelter I built for the night, and come pouring in. And while I can and will (and always do) handle that in the daytime... I really prefer not to knife-fight my existential anxiety at 3am in the morning. Much less from the not-so-high-ground of a blanket on a couch in a friend's grown-up house that already makes me feel like an errant fucking child who will never have any semblance of my shit together. A house complete with non-sagging bathroom floor, windows and doors that actually close all the way, and a kitchen sink that you don't turn on with a screwdriver.

(Yeah... I turn my sink on with a screwdriver. What?)

But while stumbling into walls looking for the bathroom in the early hours, I'd made that accidental eye contact with an anxious thought, so I had a good ol' time dodging and stabbing and blocking and cutting... until Rich and Scott finally woke up.

Hey ice machine.

We weren't moving particularly fast. 
Unknown circumstances were muddling my clarity. I remember a brewery. And I remember... a bar. Next to TVB? And beer. And... a midnight hot dog at said bar. And... then a negroni. And then... more negronis? And then... I remember Rich eating a Tupperware full of mystery pasta from Scott's fridge. And charcuterie. And grapes. And a somewhat drunk collaboration on a word-salad that included such staples as "the bike industry" and "love" and "sex rooms" and "married people" and "sleepy cocaine." Until we all retired to our respective rooms and I wrapped myself in a blanket on the couch and audibly told my head to "leave me the fuck alone" for the umpteenth time.

Drinking coffee and eating a healthy breakfast prepared by Scott, we pieced our night together and I consulted the Five Apps* to plot out the day.
*(more on that next time)

I was eyeing Land Between the Lakes, as I knew the camping and riding was good, but decided to save it for the return trip... so a southern route won out.  Somewhere near Nashville to ride... then somewhere toward Memphis to sleep.
I was underwhelmed. As per Rich, my exact words regarding what we found were "shit trails in garbage woods."
Allow me to explain.
The trails weren't really shit. They were... fine. They were sinuous and technical. Rocky. Rooty. They just were very much like the trails I ride every day. And that just wasn't the epic amazing I was looking for at that particular moment... in my frenzy of escapism. Limestone or not.
And "garbage woods?" That's harsh... I know. All woods are good. I just mean that this was one of those areas that had obviously been clearcut in the last half-century and what was growing was a tangled mess of briers, invasives, and transition. That dense thicket of suburban forest that seems to lend itself to collecting trash. Appliances, Dasani bottles, diapers, and needles. You know?
After riding the twelve mile loop, we sat in the parking lot, debating our next move. I weighed in: "Man... I'd rather not ride that trail again. It wasn't doing anything for me. There's something down the road just a little. Let's go see what that's like."
So we chamois-drove our way down the road.

When we arrived at the trailhead of Montgomery Bell, I realized I'd actually ridden there before. On one of my previous westward Odysseys.
It had been just as perplexing then.
Lots of intersections to accidentally go the way you just came from. I distinctly remembered the trail known as "Downhill" and how it had seemed... a) not particularly great... nor b) particularly "downhill." Nonetheless, we started to ride it this time. Until I noted the leaf cover, caught my fifth spider web to the face in 50 feet, and remarked on how it seemed very... "underused" compared to anything we'd ridden thus far. So we turned around... and finally found the good stuff. Just in time for it to get dark. We rode everything backwards. In the wrong order, apparently.
I was fine with that.

Baffled or not, we'd enjoyed and successfully managed to exhaust ourselves. The trails were similar to our first stop, with no shortage of roots and rocks... but they had more personality. Creek crossings and climbs. Old growth trees.
Mission accomplished?
Nearby Mexican food and big beers won out over parking lot Coors and Spaghetti-O's... and we headed down the road to sleep at Natchez Trace.

That night, listening to Rich semi-snore next to me, I dreamt about meticulously peeling red grapes and convincing my bank to let me date its recently divorced daughter.
No... I don't know what it means either. Sounds important.

The Scream
Next up: Part... whatever. (Hush. We'll get there. I mean... I'm writing. Aren't you proud of me?)


1 comment:

  1. Nashville: worst major city in the south for mountain bicycling?