3000 Joshua Tree, CA 2007

On the Road Again
I often asked myself why I go on road trips. Road trip is a meditation. I just face the view that looks through the windshield, make a few promises of my own and settle down in the driver seat. Surrounding webs glimmer in the beginning, ordinary and less ordinary sceneries are like 35mm snapshots. When the time and distance overlap just right, I then sink into the space-time of that gap. There are numerous manners when I am seated, but I peep into twenty or more of my imaginary drawers and close them with new thoughts and ideas. This is my decorum and this is my meditation: obviously a bit different from a driver’s high.
There were times when even if I had a destination, I could not find what I was looking for. I would keep telling myself that what I discovered there is not what I had imagined, and I would turn on my heels and start for another goal without looking back. When the endurance time goes on for weeks or a month, it felt as if I became to be like Bodhidharma. But road trips nowadays are changing. Before, destination was a by-product; now it gives me a goal. But still, the real object is to go on road trips again and again and again. The very day only exists that day.
So yesterday, I left a northwestern town that I stopped by in the late afternoon, took the interstate south for another tens of miles and finally located familiar looking accommodations from the highway road. Among those, I chose a motel that had a sign with a big eight, and took a room. When I used to use a camera that did not require a tripod, my voyage started immediately after I got off the plane. I would drive for hundreds of miles from day one as if Skanda was pushing my back, as if I were to miss those moments if I would not keep going. A prairie that never reaches its end, a burning red sunset glow, looking up at the Milky Way covering stadium of stars and feeling the still warm earth from the daylight on my back. What forced me to do this, I do not know. I know it was not just youth or vitality. It was probably that period when I simply had to encounter the yet to see lands or unknown moments like a galloping horse. For good or ill, my behavior and activities back then is now like a dream to me and bring back nostalgia.
Still treading on air after I fell back a sleep, the repetitive sounds of freight coupler shifting woke me up. I can feel the dry morning light filling the air through a heavyweight paisley curtain. I am getting a late breakfast this morning. On the corner of the central strip that only has a blinking single aspect, there is a modest café. Waiting to order an over easy and a side of bacon, a mug of coffee way too heavy for my sleepy hand is placed on a Formica tabletop with a greeting of “good morning.” I already know my last supper would be from a greasy spoon. I turn a huge knob and go outside, the sun is already high and in a wink, I absorb into the familiar looking scenery of the black asphalt that cuts into the vast plain way off of the highway. In the far, I can see a silhouette of mountains that looks like a woman lying down, somewhat teasingly looking down with remaining snow on the crest. This distance that leads to the heart of the mountain is just the right space-time for my road trip and the mountain pass that curves a huge “S” will guide me to the first by-product of this journey: to Topaz Internment Camp Site.

On the Road Again
 なぜロード・トリップに出かけるのか、自問もすることも多々あった。 ロード・トリップはメディテーション。ただフロントガラス越しの視界と対峙して、最低限の約束を肝の片隅に預けおき、あとは確かと座するだけ。出かけた頃は周りのしがらみ見え隠れ、その時分の視界は日常と非常の情景が35mmのスナップのようで面白い。時間と距離の重なりが、上手い具合に織りえたら、その時点で合間の時空に捩れ込む。幾多の作法はあるけれど、一番の手前勘は二十幾余の引き出しを開けては覗きまた戻す。これが私のお手前で、これが私のメディテーション。ドライビング・ハイとは違うのだ。当初の頃は目的地を目指しても、目指したものが目的地でないので、到達しても目指したものが思い描いていたものとかけ離れていると思い込み、目指したものに眼もくれず、次の目指すものに突き進んでいく。耐久時間が数週間、1ヶ月と長くなるとこの有様は達磨如きの様相だ。しかし最近のロード・トリップは時と共に様相も変わってきた、それにつれ自分もそれも変わって来た。以前の旅では目的地は副産物だった、近頃は副産物としてでなく、目的を果たすようになって来た。しかし本当の目的は何かを探しに、繰り返し、繰り返しRoad Tripに出ることだ。Again and Again and Again. 今日があるのは今日だけだ。
昨日、遅めの午後に降り立った北西部の街から州間道路を数十マイル南に向かい、その街の郊外のロードサイドに幾つかの馴染みの名のあるモーテルから8の看板のモーテルに部屋をとった。三脚を使わない写真機を使っていた時分は、降り立った飛行場から即旅が始まり、最初の日から数百マイルもの先の彼の町まで何かに急かされ、韋駄天に取り憑かれたように、移動してしまったものだ。いくら走っても走り尽くせない大平原、真っ赤に染め上がる夕焼け、昼間の大地の温もりを背中に感じて仰ぎ見る満天の星空に架かる天の川。何がそうさせたのか、若さや体力だけではないはずだ。一時でも早く見知らぬ場所や、見知らぬ時間を見つけたく、ただひたすら馬車馬のように突っ走るしかしょうがなかった時期だったような気がする。今ではあの時分の行動や振る舞いが佳きも悪しきも、現心の事なので心底それが懐かしい。二度寝の夢心地の中、遠くに聞こえる貨物列車の入れ換えの連結器の重なる響きで目が覚めた。ペイズリー模様の厚手のカーテンからは乾いた朝の光が溢れている。今朝は遅めの朝食だ。点滅の信号機が一つある一筋だけの商店街の角にある、程よいカフェでオーバーイージーとベーコンで。勿論、目覚めの感触には慌てさせるくらいの重さのマグカップはデコラのテーブルに着いた時、「おはよう」の挨拶と一緒に鎮座する。そして私の最後の晩餐はグリーシースプーンのメニューと決めている。大きなノブを回して出た外は、すでに大分陽は昇っていた。すでに州間道路からは外れていて、瞬く間に草原を黒いアスファルトが切り裂くような、いつもの慣れ親しんだ景色に吸い込まれて行く。遥か彼方に、まだ頂に残雪が残る山脈が、女性の仰向けのシルエットで心なしか揶揄いの体で横たわっている。その山懐に続くその道は私のロード・トリップには、程良い時空移動の道程だ。この山を大きくS字に登りきった峠から、さらに町らしき町がない荒野を百二十マイル西に進んだその先に、この旅の最初の副産物の場所がある。Topaz Internment Camp Site.