I consider myself a writer, but when someone asks me if I’ve written anything, I can’t give them a straight answer. I say “kind of” or “I’m working on something right now” and then go into explaining a project or making something up on the spot. The truth is I’m writing all the time in my head, in my life, and with my life. I see the narrative every day; the irony, the suspense, the folly, the heartbreak, the joy, the triumph, and sometimes even the foreshadow. Writing isn’t about how you can put words on paper, but how you take in and interpret the world so that others, and you yourself, can see it in a new way… so I’m writing every day, but what do I get for it? I don’t get paid for it. I feel like I work so much, but so little makes it on to paper, and the stuff that does isn’t even near my best work, isn’t close to what I see every day. It’s like the thrill and challenge of writing is discovering the story as it happens, whether that be in your life or fictionalized in your head. Once I’ve discovered the story I feel as though there’s nothing left to gain or learn from simply by transcribing that discovery on to paper. Obviously that is false, and others can learn from the same discovery of the story, but I’m just saying that’s how it feels to me. Now I’m trying to figure out if that means I’m just a selfish person if I don’t trudge through the monotonous work of writing things down. Other functioning members of society work the same routine and weekday schedule most of their lives just to get by, but for some reason I can’t sit down for an afternoon an focus enough to write out a story. Do I somehow, deep down, think that writing is superior to other occupations? Is that why I’m like this? Or do I, deep down, think that the world is going to end and I’m going to die and the sun will turn into a black hole and all of human history will be lost, so ‘why should I even bother writing a little story?’ I may never figure out why I do the things I do, or why I write all the time, yet still have written nothing; but at least I still have the ability to write, and hopefully one day, trudging through all these roaming thoughts I can find a reason for all this writing—a narrative… a discovery…
As I was driving down the interstate somewhere between the bay and Sacramento, an attractive young girl passed me on the right, but slowed down and stayed even with me. I looked over and she was looking back and giggling to herself. I may have raised an eyebrow or two, but couldn’t figure what the fuss was about. She seemed so blissfully lost in the moment of taking her red coupe across the state… Why do attractive girls always drive fast red cars?
I swerved a little and figured I should pay attention to the road more than I was, but I couldn’t help but keep looking back over at her. There’s something so captivating when you make contact with someone on the highway. You’re both zooming by at deathly speeds, yet you stop and take the time to look each other in the eye. There’s no pressure, no expectations, and no formalities. You’re not ‘supposed’ to meet people on the highway. You probably won’t ever see them again. It’s like seeing a person stripped down without all the defenses they wear or disguises they put up in order to function in society. If you don’t see anything worth looking at, you look away and move on, or conversely, you keep looking to see what will happen in this short amount of time.
She pressed a napkin against the window and wrote on it, holding the pen cap in her teeth, and then turned it around. It was a phone number, and from the look on her face, it was hers. I checked my rear view so I didn’t get pulled over for texting, but there was no one around. I typed the number down and gave her a thumbs up. She winked and then sped off.
I never did see her again. I pulled over at the next rest stop thinking she might be there. I called the number. “We’re sorry. This number cannot be completed as dialed. Please hang up, or–” I must have typed it down wrong. There’s no spellcheck for phone numbers. I waited at the rest stop for quite some time looking back in the direction I came. I don’t know why. Maybe I was waiting for her to pull in to the rest stop, but the truth was she was zooming down the highway. Our encounter was so brief that I didn’t know what to make of it until it was gone, so I got back in my car and decided I have a lot of road ahead of me; and a lot of driving left to do.