I stopped the car at a small sign announcing the continental divide and learned I was standing on the line that marked where the rainfall would drain – to the west it drained to the Pacific, to the east, the Atlantic. So now if I cried, my tears would be going to a different ocean. I decided right then and there that Pacific was salty enough without my contribution, so I would permit no more to fall.If you haven't seen this blogest yet, go check out Dawn's blog and follow the links to the other entries. And if you are participating in the blogfest, my plan is to visit you all over the weekend. I can't wait to read your Word Paintings!
When I got back into the car, I found myself refreshed, able to keep driving despite how many miles I’d done. The setting sun painted the sky with a wash of reds, purples and golds. Watching it through the massive windscreen, I felt as though I was sitting in a movie theatre seeing it on the big screen, though I doubted film could ever capture those colours.
I drove until chips of stars blazed across the indigo sky. And though it felt like a betrayal of the beautiful state to sleep in some generic hotel chain, it was the only thing I could find. The commonness of the hotel was excused, however, when I enjoyed my morning coffee while looking at the blushing mesas.
Several more hours driving brought me to Arizona, where beautiful painted cliffs rose just inside the state line. I prepared myself for more beauty but I soon passed beyond the painted cliffs into the desert proper. The Arizona desert was not what I expected. At first, the stark beauty was breathtaking, all sharp silhouettes and shades of earth that designers covet. But after an hour, my senses rebelled. I was raised among the green trees and gentle slopes of the northeast. The desert landscape was too alien. Hard white skies stretched above, shimmers rose from the endless grey road, and heat transmitted through the roof, the windows and up from the ground through the car until I felt like I was in an oven. All those things went supernova in my head until a razor-sharp headache pierced the centre of my brain.
The drive went on for hours until I could stand it no more. I finally pulled into the car park of a motor lodge, a throwback to the Fifties when Americans thought of road travel as fun and wanted to take their time getting somewhere. When I stepped out of my mobile living room, the heat was so fierce that the inside of my nose burned, my mouth went dry, and my sandals sank half an inch into the molten blacktop. I was clearly a fool to enter Arizona in August.
Drifting in a heat-induced haze, I soon found myself in a room that reeked of dusty potpourri but was as cold as a refrigerator. After downing three glasses of lukewarm water, I pulled the roadmap from my bag and spread it on the bed. The country was bisected by a grid of folds so worn that the paper was cobweb thin. I uncapped a black fibre pen and methodically started colouring in Arizona, making it black from edge to edge. I decided right then and there that if I ever do the cross-country drive again, I would find some route that did not include this state. When I ventured out to dinner at the diner across the car park, my breath came short and my shirt was instantly damp where it touched my skin. But the sky was lit up with a sunset of mythical proportions and I forgave Arizona briefly for its evil summer.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Word Paint Blogfest
I haven't participated in a blogfest in a long time, but I was really drawn to Dawn Ember's Word Paint blogfest. The following is an excerpt from my current serial-in-progress "Continental Drift," a story where a recently-widowed woman drives across country to reconnect with a group of friends from college.