October 2009

The Shinto Spirit of the Hotel Radio

It was November 1963. I had just slid into Hartford like a black schooner in the middle of the night, smooth and without the slightest hint to anyone. I didn't know anybody in Hartford, not a single soul in all of Connecticut and only some occasional uncle in Boston. Which is to say, an uncle I met and re-met on the odd occasion from childhood on, not a man who was occasionally my uncle. All of New England was a hotel room or a diner or a taxi cab for all I'd seen. Tall buildings are just that, big tall things along the sidewalk. I don't give two licks about them, never really did, but they sure are nice to look at. It was cold that night, the night I slid in like a schooner. Cold, but better by a half than Canada.

The Time I Skinny Dipped with Buddha in Tonto National Forest

The day after I shared the omelet with Sid I woke up and felt somehow different. It was as if a proportionate measure of weight had been lifted from each segment of my body. By becoming heavier with the omelet I had achieved a lightness in my being. I shared my weight with an entity at once separate from me and yet one with my very being. It was at this time that I ventured my first suggestion to Sid, who had until then been the sole rudder in our journey. "We have to get rid of the car," I told him, a newfound certainty expanding from my core like a tepid, massaging fire. Sid just smiled and left the keys on the hood.

The Time Buddha and I Shared a 12-Egg Omelet

Driving west in America is a downright surreal experience. You enter this bizarre, almost martian landscape somewhere just outside of Illinois and it goes on for days. Sid (that's what he told me to call him) pronounced it "Illin-noise" and said something like, "Davenport's got some killer hash browns" but we didn't even stop in Davenport. Drove right through the night chanting "om" with the static on the radio.