I left San Francisco, and arrived in Austin last Wednesday.
It took me five weeks to drive the first 12 miles, two weeks to drive the next 479 miles, and three days to drive the final 1,301 miles. At one time, I would have found the shape of that chart exciting, but it feels like exponentials jumped the shark just a little bit in 2020.
On the road, I listened to 2000s pop punk and Jake Gyllenhaal’s narration of The Great Gatsby. Every line in that book is its own work of art, but a new one stood out to me: What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do? and I nodded as I drove, on my way to attempt the opposite.
I scrubbed my cast iron pan in the bathtub of a seaside hotel in San Luis Obispo, stabbed my knee through the pant with a cactus thorn in Joshua Tree, got my first American speeding ticket near a statue of a roadrunner outside Las Cruces, and escaped a Texas snowstorm thanks to dumb luck in Fort Stockton.
Before leaving, I’d bought a $3,300 car on Facebook marketplace. I ended up naming her 美 (but pronounced like the month) because along the road, the blue-white incandescence of the ocean and purple-red glow of the mountains reminded me of the Chinese name for America.
My mood rose and fell with the fuel gauge on 美’s dashboard. Now that we’re here in Austin and will be for the next two months, both mood and gauge have somewhat stabilized.
I made resolutions for this year. I try to avoid New Year’s resolutions because I’ve always had a problem with doing things that I think other people are doing. Instead, I make resolutions when my life has changed meaningfully or I would like it to. I made resolutions at the beginning of quarantine (I completed about a third of those resolutions, though quarantine has lasted three times longer than I thought it would). I made resolutions after Unplugged, which I can inadequately describe as Burning Man for dancers. I made resolutions after I was made an accessory to the spectacular dissolution of a relationship between an Australian woman and a Danish man, under the equally spectacular fireworks display erupting from the Taipei 101 (I suppose that technically, those were New Year’s resolutions).
I made resolutions for this year, because my life has changed in even more ways than I just described, and I’m trying to shake my habit of performative contrarianism. Here they are:
- Write every day
- Volunteer every week
- Get therapy
- Stay single
- Write an essay in Chinese
- Listen to fewer words, more music, and more silence