Waking up in Memphis was like being reborn. With a day’s worth of driving between me and Chicago and no company except for Patti, my patron saint, it felt like I was in a safe place for the first time in months. Patti spent the morning mothering me and calling me “honey.” I talked to her about Larry McMurtry and California and not knowing what I was doing, and she made me coffee and told me that I would figure it out. I asked her what being a real writer was like, and she said she’d tell me just as soon as she got an agent.
After coffee I said goodbye and got back onto I-55, the same way I took when I drove up to Chicago in the spring. I made a point to avoid Oklahoma, where I have an outstanding speeding ticket I have no intention of paying. I felt good and kept my windows open most of the way through Mississippi, letting the wind deafen me and air out the clothes I had been wearing for the past few days. The sadness I’d had the past few months, the kind that hangs on you like one of those lead aprons they make you wear when you get an x-ray at the dentist’s office, lifted off me in layers and blew out the window, gusting like garbage down the highway.
Maybe I’m running away from my problems, but maybe that’s what I needed.