Day 35 – 10/1, 2:45pm, in the air from San Diego to Newark
Finished. It feels good to be done. As the elation and adrenaline from the tour begins to wear off, I recognize how wholly exhausted I am. Bone weary is a cliche I’ve used before, but I can really feel the tiredness deep in my tissues, my joints, my mind. My body is clumsy, my fingers slightly numb, my brain fuzzy. But crossed a nice round number today: over 2,000 miles riding. Plus an even 50 collaborating musicians, and the ineffable moments remain unquantifiable.
I made it to Mexico, but never played at the beach. The coast is farther from the border crossing than you’d expect, and I didn’t dare take the highway that is the only direct route. After a couple of hours mostly lost in the maze of steep, windy, and potholed streets that separate the city from the ocean, I accepted defeat and made my way back, catching the sunrise over the hills as I turned. I still had the US border to recross, 20 miles of biking to San Diego, and a plane to catch, and I could feel my body struggling to the finish line and my reservoir of good luck starting to run dry, so I didn’t want to push it. An unresolved ending often leaves more options than a traditional cadence. And while symmetrical form can be nice, I didn’t want a repeat of my opening day crash. At least the echo of my playing the night before bounced back and forth across the border without complication.
I finished my last book of the trip last night, The New Republic by Lionel Shriver, my friend Mary’s favorite author, the first time I’ve read her work. In a striking coincidence, both the Egan and the Shriver books are primarily concerned with issues of media and terrorism, both were written in the late ’90s (though published a little later), and both are unnervingly prescient about phenomena of celebrity culture, political terror, and propaganda of all kinds that we’ve seen in the past thirteen years. My biking cocoon of the past month has been the most insulated period in my adult life from media and the news. I’ve heard whispers of all the usual terrible things happening, as we stumble into new endless wars against new boogeymen, but I have not been tuned in at all. Getting used to ‘normal’ life’s daily information overload (along with all the other modern intensities: cars, computers, communication, and the like) will be a difficult transition, like the strip malls and traffic between the redwoods and the city centers. Hopefully I can hold on to some of the quieter inner spaces I discovered in the last five weeks even as I return.
It is funny to think that in two hours in this airplane I’ve probably traveled just as far as I biked this whole trip. Of course, by the same token, more people have probably listened to the new pop hit from whatever star is the flavor of the month in the past two hours than will listen to my music in my lifetime. If nothing else, I should have learned it is not the speed or quantity, but the quality of the experience that matters most, returning to the genesis analogy of the entire project.
I am far behind on posting field recordings from the concerts, I will try and catch up on that over the next few days. And in the coming weeks, I’ll work with Chris as he puts together his film. But after what feels like a transformative five weeks, I am ready (and I desperately need) to rest, to let myself digest the experience and figure out where it’s left me. Further reflections will come, but for now, I am so happy I did this, and I am so happy to be almost home.