Nature writing with my students

By Neva Knott

Prompt: The image of an owl soaring through the night.

I love the darkness and the damp wonder of fall in the Pacific NW–it’s a time of secrets, not those we fear to tell but a time nature reveals her secrets in the details of changing color. Soft grays of dawn unfold to misty mornings that eventually dry and the crayon blue sky of October carries the day to the evening. In the evening, the day birds in the holly tree near my house stop, suddenly. The sky fades back to grey and the temperature drops as the dogs andI take our last walk before dark. Even down town, with the city’s lights ablaze, a fall night is deep and solid and black.

This is the time of deer and coyote and owls. To see an owl in the urban wilderness is a rare gift. I have known this secret only once, in another Pacific NW night. December, in Portland, and that owl found refuge from the snow storm on the branch outside my window. I found him there, feathers aflutter and neck swiveling, leaning toward my secrets as I considered his.

A robin, a church, a garden

By Neva Knott

March 15.

Yesterday, Saturday, we awoke to snow. Light flurries, swirling but not sticking. Dry snow and a cold wind coming up off the low end of the Salish Sea. Ted and I walked for an hour, through our neighborhood, up toward Trinity. A few people were cleaning brush at the church grounds and I greeted them. I am drawn to that place, Trinity Lutheran Church. I wanted to tell them I was baptized there, that it was my grandparents’ church, that everyone in my Cooper bloodline has walked up those steps and crossed the threshold into that church.

But, I didn’t. I kept my secret and we walked on to the field behind the school.

The snow kept falling. I let Ted loose of his leash and he ran quickly and was out of sight. Once I had my eye on him I paused to take a picture of the sign in the winter garden:

I stood and pondered; this garden embodies a life I’d like to live. The sign took me back to a college photo project I’d titled “Wisdom Comes from Watching Nature.” Just this morning, I’d been talking with my sister, restating my belief that we will all need to grow our own food in twenty years; we will need that level of self-reliance.

This garden, a visceral truth I feel walking past the church.

We walked on, traversing the school yard as the snow continued to swirl around us, melting before it landed on the grass. The robins were out. I counted at least twenty of them, moving in an arc, keeping forward of our approach, spanning out across the field to peck and forage.

March to April.

We walk past the church and to the school each day now, with the world shut down. No one is ever there, in the quiet and peace. On Sundays it’s sad to see the church closed and empty. On one of those holy days, I stood for a moment and let my mind recede into memories there of grandma in her Sunday church coat and gloves, and Grandpa–always a bit impatient as he pulled the car out of the garage. It was raining that day; nonetheless, I felt their love:

On another rainy day, and another, I find worms on the sidewalks. I pick up each one and return it to the grass, a habit I’ve since childhood. I think of the robins and of the circle of life.

April 21.

Today, as we made our way to Trinity and the garden and the school, the trees snowed, covering the ground with a flurry of cherry blossoms, pink and delicate. A man has been working in the garden; I’ve seen him I time or two, silent and solitary, dedicated. He does not look up as we pass by. Today I notice he’s left the door to the greenhouse open. Last year’s kale is shoulder high and going to flower.

The blossoms continue to fall and I look up, past the roof of the greenhouse and to the top of an apple tree in the garden. A robin perches there, red breasted, proud. And then, hearing birdsong from across the field, flies up to the top of a spruce and sits, watchful, on high.

April 22.

This evening, as we made our way, I found a cracked robin’s egg on the sidewalk. Blue and hatched. I found a robin’s egg in this same place last spring.

I remembered, and I hope.

Camping at Summer Lake Hot Spring, Oregon

By Neva Knott

I amble around the Pacific Northwest often. A recent Memorial Day, my friend Chandika and I took off on a suggestion from a coworker of mine to Summer Lake in Central/East Oregon. We stayed at the Hot Spring campground there; it’s a cool place–the owner has set up Airstream trailers as cabins and a tent area in a field. It was casual and friendly, so much so that he made us coffee in the morning, since we’d forgotten the French press.

These photographs were shot with my Holga plastic camera and film. If you’re not familiar with Holgas, the distortions and vignetting are part of the charm of the camera.

Beachscapes at Fort Stevens, Astoria, Oregon

By Neva Knott

A photography teacher once quoted a famous photog, whose name I’ve now forgotten, stating that photography has nothing to do with the beach. I disagree. The place where the sky meets water and water meets land is magical, mysterious, and abundant of life.

Footsteps, Fort Stevens, Astoria OR

Fort Stevens, Astoria OR

End of the beach, Fort Stevens, Astoria WA

Sea Lions in Astoria, Oregon

By Neva Knott

Sea Lions resting on the docks in Astoria, Oregon. Most, if not all, of these are male California Sea Lions, distinguishable by their darker color and dog-like bark, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. This is a charismatic species; these lounging and napping sea creatures draw an audience when they’re in town. And, they cause an uproar with Astoria’s citizens who use these docks–the sea lions are noisy, smelly, cause damage to the docks, and take up prime mooring space.

As a naturalist, I’m on the side of the sea lions. They come in for the smelt run and stay for the salmon run. What people don’t understand is this: when we take up wildlife habitat, they will “invade” our habitat.

Whale Bones Memorial, Newport, Oregon

By Neva Knott

For me, this memorial is a visual connective element between humans and the circle of life. The enormity of the whale reminds that we are not the primary species on the planet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sandy River Delta Pond Across the Seasons

By Neva Knott

I walked the same area of the Thousand Acres dog park on the Sandy River Delta and took photos of the wetlands ponds once a month for a year to show how wetlands shift and cannot be seen as static elements of the landscape. Wetlands are considered the kidneys of the planet. They filter sediment and toxins out of water before it becomes part of a river. The provide nutrients to soil and serve as habitat for wildlife. Wetlands are an important part of the earth’s hydro cycle, climate, and heat regulatory systems.

Too often, wetlands are filled by developers. When this happens, the full range of the ecosystem services provided by wetlands is not considered, nor is the flux of the wetlands system on a landscape.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Talk Here

By Neva Knott

Sandycrest Terrace. The first place I lived all on my own as an adult. The first place I was totally financially responsible for myself. The first place I was in charge of my whole life. Twenty-two, naïve, alone. Just me—paying the bills, figuring out who I’d become. I found myself there after having walked out of the relationship that brought me to Portland, after having walked away from home. The bottom line I offered when people asked what my plans were was to say, I don’t know, finish school.

I can so easily go back to that time in my mind, but only to the sorrow of it. Only to the encapsulation of my confusion as that twenty-two-year-old girl. That memory allows all of the sadness to refract and land elsewhere. For me, that time of my life has to stay in the shadows so that I can make sense of who I’ve become since.

Here I am again, back at Sandycrest, twenty-six years later. I needed a place to live on the fly, after another crash and burn of the life I imaged and planned for myself. A start-over homecoming, it seems. Brick buildings and door vestibules by which I can mark my progress, reflect, and hopefully move on.

Even though I’ve been brought here by the two large disasters of my life, I want a seamless adherence to the truth of my choices, a rationale to the trajectory of life I set myself upon the last time I was here. I want to see the clean progression between then and now, yet all of the past lurking in the darkness just outside of my daily reality wants to tumble out now, to stand as a reflected image, to murmur as an echo, begging my contemplation of the strands I tried to tuck out of the light when I lived here before.

As I put my new key in the door, I notice the out-moded intercom box with its chipped green paint. The instruction placard reads, Talk Here.

I awake, amongst the boxes and clutter of the move-in. Lucid dream this morning—I dreamt of the Himalayas. I used to have a certificate for having flown over them in a little plane when I was, probably, eight. It was in a cheap frame, brown with gold along an indent in the middle of the molding, glass-covered. The certificate itself looked quite official, with a color-print image of the mountains and a wordy declaration of my feat. My name had been hand-lettered into the form. I was dreaming partly of the piece of paper and partly of the event itself. I looked down and I was above Mt. Everest, and I was in the plane. All of a sudden, as the plane swooped, the snow changed into grass that was lush and electrifyingly green. I realized the scene had changed and I was walking a narrow path through the verdant fields of the Himalayas. I passed a monastery that lay off in the distance, above the path. I looked back at it. Seeing the monks, I smiled. They were emptying large burlap bags of rice into brown ceramic pots. And then the dream switched off.

Later in the day, I went out in the yard to throw a ball for my dog. The grounds at Sandycrest are beautiful, atypical for an apartment complex. Maples that curve over the street, creating a curtain that veils my apartment from the world beyond, tulip trees that drop blooms that look like fireworks and the courtyard tree with the redolence that wraps around the atmosphere at night.

In 1984, during my previous residency at Sandycrest Terrace, after that first big crash and burn of my then newly-minted adult life, I set some goals—the big life kind:

Teach at a small college

Write and photograph alongside teaching

Make money from other investments

Buy an old barn and convert it into a house

Have a self-sustaining farm

For years, I used that list as my compass. I had originally written it on lined notebook paper and kept it folded in a stack of important papers. A year or so later, I bought my first journal—a hardbound black sketchbook. I pasted the list onto its flyleaf, making it more official, deeming it part of my daily ritual.

I am not a keeper of my journals. When I feel they have served their purpose, that I’ve chewed on the musings in them long enough, I destroy them, rooting all their mumbo-jumbo in the past. I burned that journal, but before I lit the match, I cut out the list of goals and pasted it into a new blank book. Through a series of cut-and-pastes, I carried my compass with me, forward in life.

Just three or four years ago, I realized I’d accomplished most of the list—or a version of it. I taught high school, the barn idea had shifted into a 1920s Portland-style bungalow. I wrote and made photographs, and have an investment account. Simultaneously, I realized I wasn’t really happy—not due to the list—I had not planned wrongly, but circumstances separate from my endeavors were bringing me down. I let go of it all and moved, still yearning for the simplicity of the plan of the list, and actually looking for the land for the farm. I knew the list by heart then, so I left it behind in that batch of destroyed journals, as an artifact of the life I was trying to escape.

I tried to change everything, just as the world shifted. I moved out of the city to Central Oregon, landed a nice teaching job there, and bought a house. In just two years, as the recession hit, I ended up stranded in a new town, no job, no home, no plan. That’s how I landed back at Sandycrest, back to shaping my life.

My first apartment here was on the ground floor. Now, I live on the second. I have a bank of paned windows that look out among the treetops and across the side street. I look eye to eye with the birds. Much of my time is spent sitting on my perch, pondering. I spend some evenings in the yard, often sketching my surroundings—the chestnut tree, so bold in its flowering and germination. The crows, as they taunt my dog and sing out the threat of his presence.

I like the idea of the cloister world of monks. Of spiritual intellectualism. Of how their days are filled with simple tasks and big ideas. They do not follow compass directions of place, but of heart and mind.

Spring has turned to summer and then to fall. Now it’s December. The winter solstice sneaks up with it’s darkness and then, all at once, is shining light. One year, I was standing on Waikiki, all the hotels and tourist hustle and bustle behind me, brightly lit, and I was alone on that world-famous, usually packed, beach. I watched the moon, walked barefoot and watched the nighttime ocean wander in and then recede. This winter I’m in Portland, a city so long my home. I think, maybe coming back is moving forward. No matter one’s location, the solstice is a sneaky thing, begging internal reflection.

My yoga teacher asked today, “What is hidden in your darkness that you are not letting out?“ In Jungian conception, the darkness, the shadow side of life, is two things—it is that which we perceive as weakness and want to keep hidden, and it is the beauty in each of us yet to escape. As I drove through my day, I kept thinking about the question. It is one of the human heart. A daunting question in this world of work-a-day and bill paying.

I thought about my little list, of all the times it had travelled with me, and wondered if the shadow answers could still be found on that slip of paper, penned by a much younger me, on some other day when my mind wandered, trying to make sense of the string of events I was calling my life.

I put my key in the latch of my door and glance at the speaker box and its insistent command to Talk Here. Maybe, just maybe, my twenty-two-year-old self was on to something.


If you’ve never stared off into the distance then your life is a shame…


By Neva Knott

Redmond. This Central Oregon town hasn’t changed much since its founding a hundred years ago. It is a typical Oregon small town in the organizational sense; there is a one-way leading in, through, and out of town to the south and there is a one-way leading in, through, and out of town to the north. There is an intersection with a highway to the west and one with a highway to the east.

I came to Redmond from Oregon’s big city, Portland, from the north. I came over snow-capped Mt. Hood, then across the dusty, sand-orange colored Warm Springs Indian reservation, dropping down into the Deschutes river canyon with the shimmering black-blue of the water, and ascending back up to the sage-covered plateau. After driving a long stretch across the res, I dropped back down and into the green agricultural town of Madras, a place that holds the scent of the garlic grown there. Continuing on, I passed the Smith Rock formation to the left, cross the Crooked River canyon, passed a red cinder rock butte on the right, and will then was welcomed to Redmond by a bronzed statue of a cowboy riding a horse.

The High Cascade Range of volcanoes creates a boundary between Central and Western Oregon. The Redmond side of the Cascades sits in a rain shadow which causes this drastic and immediate change from the Portland side thick and dense Douglas fir forest with its rhododendron, salal, Oregon grape, huckleberry, maple understory to a less dense mix of Ponderosa pine forest, Juniper trees, sage, and rabbit brush. Redmond sits upon an expansive landscape, the High Lava Plains, across which one can see for miles, taking in buttes and mountains.

This is a farm town. The Deschutes County Fair is here, ranching is the industry, and Big R is the place to shop. People here love the land, the hunting life, and outdoor sportsmanship.

I didn’t intend to relocate to Redmond. Nor did I intend to leave.

In Portland, I worked at the high-pressure college prep Lincoln High School. Due to constant budget cuts, lack of a district superintendent, and weak leadership from our principal, the general vibe of the school was increasingly dysfunctional. Professionalism was eroded. My colleagues were a group of stressed, strident, self-serving skitterers. The stress was eroding my love of teaching. I also had a personal reason for escaping both Lincoln and Portland. My partner, Adam, had died in a car crash two years prior. Adam and I had been planning on moving back to Maui, where we’d lived in 2002, at the end of the school year. Adam hadn’t wanted to return to Oregon.

After the accident, the Lincoln community and the structure of work provided me much support. But after a couple of years, I was tired of people looking at me with the unasked question, “Are you all right yet?” I gave my notice, signed a lease on Maui—taking over the rental of a friend who was moving in with her fiancé—packed my home goods and sent them to the shipper. Prepared the dog to pass quarantine. Intended to bartend for a year and sit on the beach, work on my photography and write, sort out myself.

I gave my notice on June 1, 2007. As I sat at graduation a few days later, I looked down the row of teachers, their slumped postures, wound tight faces, and bad hair dye jobs and thought, thank god I’m getting out of here.

I let go my Portland apartment, spent a week couch-surfing and saying my goodbyes, and then—there is no eloquent way to say it—it all fell apart. My friend’s fiancé broke off the engagement, she melted, and obviously needed to retain her lease. Our phone conversation about the situation is the only time in ten years of friendship I’ve seen her lose composure. She shouted, “If you make me give up my home, it will end our friendship.” My wordlies were on a boat in the Pacific, I had no job, no home, no recourse.

I panicked. I’d fucked up my life. As much as I’m a traveller, adventurer, and espouse big dreams, I also value professional security. I grew up in a hard-working, work-a-day blue-collar family in which the job is a prime directive. I wasn’t trying to quit teaching with my leave-taking from Lincoln. I was burnt out, traumatized, and grieving, and I knew I needed a break to regain sense of self after my loss. Now what?

Lincoln had gotten a new principal, a woman I knew from graduate school, and she’d been happy with my work the past year. The first line of the recommendation she wrote for me read, “Neva Knott is a teacher I’d rehire in a heart-beat.” I called her, and she’d just—that day—filled my spot. One friend suggested I bartend in Portland—I scoffed. One friend suggested I go to Maui anyway—I baulked. Without Adam, with no job and now no home there, with my friend dealing with her own trauma, and with a dog…it all seemed too big, unmanageable. I began having dreams of waves too big to swim through, of being on my favorite beach when the surf would surge, the water turning from aquamarine to a rough, sand-filled grey.

In desperation, I began applying for teaching jobs.

Redmond School District had an opening for an English teacher at the new International School of the Cascades. The description read as if it were tailored to my resume. Though I left Lincoln seeking a break, this was the type of position I hoped to find when I reinvigorated my career. At the ISC I encountered a friendly, smart, fit and worldly group of professionals and really nice, motivated students. I bought a sweet little ranch style house on the edge of town, near a llama field and the Baptist church.

On the High Desert, I encountered an expansive landscape. Open. Clean. Qualities I was seeking in my life and in myself. As I struggled to re-establish the outward aspects of my life, my internal landscape became closed, obscured, and small. I felt lonely in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been before. I photographed nothing. I wrote not a word. I didn’t make friends. That type of inertia is not me. As much as there is a line between the Portland side and Central Oregon, there seemed to be an imaginary boundary to what I set out to accomplish.

Some sort of tenacity kept me there.

Redmond is the type of place where, on a cold winter’s morning, before first light, a group of tough construction workers sits in Starbucks, conducting a Bible study. It’s a place where the coffee stand man knows your name and greets you every morning when you drive through on your way to work. Where people stop, smile, and wave as they let you cross the street. Where it’s effortless to buy local because every business is owned by someone born and raised here. The grocery checkers are always the same and chit-chat with you in a way that makes you feel you’ve participated in community.

The culture of Central Oregon is built around playing outside. Mt. Bachelor is a ski destination, the Chain Breaker is an annual cyclo-cross race that draws the state’s best riders, the Metolius and the Deschutes rivers provide some of the best fishing in Oregon, and Smith Rock is a world-famous climbing spot. I’m not an extreme athlete as are many I met there, but I hike with my dog. After work I’d choose a trail along one of the rivers or drive to the Ponderosa forest just outside of town. Within twenty minutes, I could be in wilderness, which is where I spent my weekends and school breaks. On one summer trip, out to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, I drove home after sunset with all the windows down. It took four hours to traverse the various ecosystems. I discerned changes in the landscape by scent and temperature; it was a tactile connection made between me and the Oregon I was travelling across in the night air. I shaped my life there around the landscape. In the process, I found all of the attributes of the outdoors lifestyle I sought on Maui, and I found more—a sense of being grounded, rooted, part of a bigger place than just that which I inhabited. I felt bigger than work and chores and adult-life obligations. I felt bigger than what I’d lost.

Somehow, inexplicably, I needed the lack of familiarity I experienced in Redmond so that I could push myself forward into the shape I wanted for my life. Was I still the take-life-by-the-horns, make-it-what-you-want-it-to-be bad ass I fancied myself to be?

Then came the recession. In spring of 2009, twenty per cent of the teachers in the school district, myself included, were laid off. We were told not to expect to be called back to work in the fall. I’d gone to Redmond with just over ten years of experience; sadly, in Oregon one does not retain one’s seniority or years of service when one changes districts. I found myself at the bottom of the pile.

The bell rang and my students poured out of my classroom, on their ways to another. I took a quick break myself. In fact, I pulled myself up short with a life-changing realization while in the faculty bathroom, all in the few precious moments of passing time. As I washed my hands, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I was going to work another 20 years. I was 47, and we’d all been given our lay-off notices that day. We knew they were coming—Central Oregon was reportedly the fourth hardest hit place in the nation in the “economic downturn” as this new devastating recession was being called. There had been talk of nothing else at lunch, for weeks. I think by the time the actual day came, some of us—I know I did—felt sorrow for our supervisor who had the horrible job of actually handing out the individual notices.

So that’s how I found myself washing my hands and talking into the mirror, making a big life decision in the four minutes of passing time. I told my reflection, “You’re going to work another 20 years, you know. And your whole career in teaching has been budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts. You have no seniority here—this will only get worse. Just try something different. You can do anything you want.”

So I did. I applied to a graduate program in Environmental Studies. I love the out-of-doors, nature. I had an idea of becoming a sustainability consultant, and of using writing and photography to help people understand how and why to live sustainably.

In the fall, though, one week before school began, I was called back and placed at a middle school, even though I’d always taught high school. When I explained this to the HR director, she told me I had to take the job, or they’d cut off my unemployment.

I made it until February. I took a sick day and hiked in the snow around Suttle Lake. Afterwards, I sat in a coffee shop and wrote out the details of what I was feeling. I couldn’t make it through a work-week without multiple migraines. I cried all the time. I had excruciating insomnia. I liked the middle school, but wasn’t really prepared to run a classroom at that grade level, so I was struggling. The district was in shambles and lay-offs were imminent again in the coming spring. I didn’t want another chaotic teaching position, after the erosion of Lincoln. This new upset was just too much for me after the ordeals of Adam and Maui. All of the turmoil distracted me enough that I was struggling in graduate school. And, I was losing money by the minute on my house. I drank coffee and tried to devise a plan, some sort of blue-print to get me out of this mess. The next morning my friend Kate came over and we walked the Deschutes. I stopped, looked at her and said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m not going back to work on Monday.” Half an hour later, I got a call for a bartending job in Portland, at a place I’d in the 90s while we were starting Plazm.

In June, I returned to Redmond to participate in the graduation of the last class of the International School of the Cascades, the new school that held my dream job just three years earlier. The program had been cut in the budget shortfall. I wore the black robe and the mantle of my alma mater that signals my stature as an academic. I sat in the front row with my former colleagues, all of whom I respect and admire. I felt sadness and shame and failure about my professional experience there, and a longing for a life that I know I won’t have in this place of grandeur. I drove over Mt. Hood, across the reservation, through Madras. As I drove along the plateau, I looked at the sky. At once, across the High Desert, it was a dark and ominous grey, crossed by a swathe of blue-white. A mile off in the distance, a bright spot of sun shone through and illuminated the grey above me as it pulled the blue out from behind a pink-tinted puff of cloud. The sky’s colors and luminescence elucidated for me the meaning of my time in Redmond. As I looked into the distance, I knew that it was time of cleansing and expansion.


End Note: the opening quotation is from Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby, by Counting Crows.

No longer Kerouac’s America…

He’d been riding freight trains. From Florida, originally, but just in New Orleans. Coming west to look for work. That’s how he said it, “look for work,” as if an apparition from the Great Depression, from years gone by. “There’s no work in the eastern South.”

Today, he and friends were coming up from California, headed to Seattle. The train they were on had sided–stopped, so another could pass by on the opposing track. They’d gotten off to pee, he, friends, and the 4-month-old pup I’d found him standing with alongside the road. He thought one of the friends had grabbed the pup, so he jumped back aboard. Down the tracks he realized the pup wasn’t sleeping amongst the packs or in someone’s lap. He was gone, left off the train, and they’d sped ahead a good thirty miles by now. He began to cry when he thought of his pup sitting there lost and alone.

He jumped off the train as soon as it slowed enough, and hitched his way back, not really knowing where he was going. He says he got lucky, because they guy who picked him up told him the only places the tracks ran through. He got there, to the spot the train sided. The pup was sitting, waiting, barking. For him.

I picked them up just outside of Tenino, Washington. On my way home from work. I don’t ever pick up hitch-hikers here, but something told me to stay slow, to slow more, as I pulled out of the little town onto the 50 mph highway. I looked at the kid and saw the pup, and pulled over, not even thinking otherwise. Something in me felt it right, sensed the kid’s spirit. And he had a pup. Brindle brown little thing, pit and chow mix, sweet as could be.

I pulled over and told him I could take him into Olympia. He got in, and the pup jumped into the back seat. I did a quick once over, looking for any signs of alarm, signs I shouldn’t do this, signs I was in danger. I’m highly trained in self-defense, but still, one shouldn’t put oneself at risk. He was a twenty-something, on the new end of that decade, fresh in his enthusiasm and the raw experience he was having. Kind–I saw it in his eyes. Polite–I felt it in his manners and mannerisms.

A little unsettled by his morning, I could tell. In love with that pup.

He was a bit dirty from the rails and road, but not unkempt. I was in a white jacket, expensive jeans and shoes, and on my way home from my professional day of teaching.

He told me of his ordeal, and that he was really going to California (land of milk and honey?) to work as a trimmer, but had decided to check out Seattle before settling into the job. Our conversation meandered around places familiar, those places we’d both been. Meandered around legalization and the economic and cultural impacts it might bring. He told me that, to someone from the east, Oregon and Washington are still wild.

Then he popped the line, “Someone said to me the other day that it’s not Kerouac’s America anymore.” I replied with my theory that there are many Americas, like in the Whitman poem, “I Hear America Singing.” He said that’s why he’s so influenced by the Beat Poets. I asked him if he wrote. He does. Asked if he could read me the poem he’d written just that morning. It was lovely. That was the only word I could find to describe it. He smiled and said thank you. I meant it. He meant it.

I’ve begun On The Road twice. I’ve never finished it. I used to live that roadtrip lifestyle, minus the Beat infatuation with drugs. The first time I stopped reading the novel because it felt familiar. The second time, I just stopped, even though I love Kerouac’s prose, his insight, his wisdom.

I dropped the kid and his pup in the Taco Bell parking lot, just at the on-ramp to I-5 so he could get to Seattle and rejoin his friends.