My dad and I took a roadtrip to beautiful Belmont County to visit relatives and get out of the city and it was the perfect day to drive around listening to "Everyone Knows This is Nowhere" and "The Joshua Tree," as I'm wondering why these two records feel so American when they're not, but they sound so good and epic when driving through tiny towns under huge blue skies as the colors turn to yellow and rust.
I wonder how these towns hold on, and I see creeks where the water is rusty and hills that have been carved out by strip mining, empty farmhouses with torn curtains waving in the breeze, old cars rusting in back yards.
We stopped and visited relatives and I heard stories about working in coal mines, the way that things have changed since then, and caught up on the family gossip, since my grandma's passed away, no one knows what everyone's up to anymore since she was the link between us in Cleveland and them in Maynard.
A lot of people weren't home, so we didn't end up staying overnight like we planned, but it was good to see the aunts, uncles, and cousins that I did know, and to end up in places that I've never been to before as we took detours and back roads so steep and narrow I wondered if we were going to get stranded and also how my relatives drive their big old Cadillacs and Crown Vics up and down these steep gravel roads on precarious hills.
We stopped by to visit a few of my uncles but nobody was home. I'd never been to some of these places before, but my dad knew every watering hole and uncle's house including Joe's where he jokes about his six Cadillacs that rust in the yard along with all the ephemera he's picked up over the last few decades.
The drive home was beautiful and I got to have some great conversations with my dad and indulge my artistic id by taking photos of everything I could snap from the car windows. I'd love to get down there more, to be somewhere so different and yet so familiar, the place where my roots were and where I came from.
I crashed on a friend's couch that night when I came home and then painted my new kitchen and moved more stuff over. I couldn't stay over that night and didn't want to go home so I studied for my Latin American History midterm at a coffeeshop and walked around Lakewood talking to the partner in crime on the phone before tiring myself out sufficiently.
My dad and adopted uncle and a couple friends of mine helped me move the big stuff that morning, I got free tickets to see "The Screwtape Letters" that afternoon and then picked up my former college roomie to go see Greg Dulli do an "intimate set" at the Grog Shop, which made me realize that I am still more of a fan of the full band setup (even though the violinist/cellist was amazing) and that his fanbase has a surprising amount of very drunk and obnoxious people.
I mean, really, it's the first time my personal space was blatantly violated, the women (I say "women" because they were older than me) were trying to throw themselves at this aging rock icon with a serious self-hating streak, the dudes were completely wasted and couldn't keep their hands to themselves, and I was a bit cranky and sore from having moved all day and seen enough dysfunction in the past few months to really not want to hear about more of it.
It's back to the daily for me after two days off and a weekend of moving and movement, trying to impose order on the jumble of boxes and bags, adjust to living upstairs and taking into consideration that the floors are thinner than I thought, and the little kids living below me need to go to bed early, that my gas doesn't get turned on until Thursday when I can be home and therefore I have no heat, hot water, or a working stove, so I pile up the covers and my grandma's feather bed, eat takeout, and wait for things to start to feel a little more stable than they do right now.