It's hard to tell this one being anything but honest. So the honest truth is that I've started this post five times in the last seven days. Why seven? Well seven days ago I took off from my "safe" environment on yet another potentially epic road trip. And judging by the damage to my car from the first big roadkill I've ever hit (in Texas of course) epic is the least of the adjectives that are going to apply by the time this thing is done.
Why have I started and not finished five times? Because although the gist of it isn't going away, the daily craziness keeps amping up. Bubba. CHAZ. Cuomo. Trump.
So why now?
Well this kid see...
Imagine 'Chunk' from the Goonies
Mixed with that kid from Modern Family. I don't say anything to be mean, just to describe him. He seemed like a good kid. The kind of kid you might tease once and then realize he's just a good kid. He's your cousin. Your best friends' little brother. A kid who'd probably help you up if you were tripped in the hallway on the way to your locker. Even after you were teasing him.
This was the kid I met at the pool in Biloxi MS.
But then again we've seen a lot of pools.
I've been trying to report what I've seen through the cities and states.. Los Angeles, Phoenix, New Mexico, Texas, LA, etc.. but it's kind of like after-the-fact reporting. Most stores have signs suggesting or requiring masks. Most people are kindly wearing masks. Most restaurants are take out and curbside pickup but occasionally there's one in a town that's reopened.
Nothing too shocking.
And then I hit an Antelope.
That was shocking.
Probably deserves its own post though, let's get back to the road.
The trip was amazing so far. We'd braved the 102 degrees in Phoenix in a 50 yr old convertible and avoided the wildfires by a day. Mid-Texas was a little rough heat-wise but we knew water was coming. We had a great time with my cousin outside of Austin. Then we got absolutely dumped on somewhere in LA - between Beaumont and Baton Rouge. Come to think of it the last time I was "somewhere" in Louisiana I got dumped on. I mean Noah level dumped on. Bad enough to make you buy new wipers. Or at least think about buying new wipers.
But we made it.
I imagine Biloxi's glory days are behind it. If you didn't compare it to Orange Beach or Destin it's probably fine. There is an army base nearby but maybe that's just in my head. The water is muddy but the sand felt great after another day on the road. The restaurant wasn't great but it wasn't awful.
It was just Biloxi.
We chilled out at the pool outside our Hilton-adjacent lodging and my co-pilot said "I'm going upstairs." I was just about to when a kid got into the pool by himself and started talking.
If you're new to these connections this seems to happen to me quite a lot.
It's possible I should become a therapist. I might never have to speak.
As best as my memory serves this is what occurred poolside in Biloxi MS while most of America was wondering what Bubba Wallace really found hanging from his garage.
9:15pm Central Standard Time
Boy gets into pool backwards.
Boy starts walking like he's going to backstroke but never does. Just keeps walking backward in a counter-clockwise direction.
And just like The Gambler, he begins to speak.
"Well, so you know like everything's corrupt. Kinda sucks."
What's that? I answered.
"You know - cops."
Oh, I said, well, yeah a few bad ones make...
"And then there’s Black Lives Matter."
(Oh boy I thought - here we go)
"But don’t all lives matter?" he said after a few more steps backwards.
Well sure, I started to say.. it's a complex issue and –
“You been to an escape room?” because of his swimming he rarely heard my replies. He was on a roll now and I was settling in.
I’ve heard they’re cool, I answered. I almost went to one in Nashville.
“Yeah I really like them. Me and my brother and my dad we went to one.”
Did you figure it out? I asked.
“Oh yeah. I’m pretty good. Well one of them I got us out. The other one I didn't. But we’ll go back. I'm pretty good at them."
So you live in Mississippi? I said.
“Yeah we live in Florence.”
How far is that from here?
“Um it’s like, (deep breath) well it’s a couple.. (swimming lightly) actually I guess I don’t know.”
But you like Biloxi?
"Well, they don’t have an escape room."
"But you know like, my dad and my brother are here so, and there’s the beach”
Right, I said.
"I saw this one video where this SWAT team goes in and like, they're gonna tase this guy but he's in the bathroom and then he comes out but like won't put down his hammer, or towel, whatever it is. And so they tase him like 17 times."
Wow. I said.
"Well not in a row. But yeah, and then like, he chokes I guess, and - he dies."
Hmm. I answered. I guess you can find a video of almost anything on YouTube huh.
"Yeah and I guess there’s this one video where this Karen was complaining about men being toxic or something – "
But really she was antagonizing this guy and so then this guy called her out on her bullcrap and then he said that like, she was just playing the victim and so basically it’s like.. quit your bullcrap.
Actually there’a a reddit thread, well a sub-reddit thread, called quit your bullcrap."
So you find a lot of news on Reddit?
(kid doesn't really hear me)
"What? Uh I guess. But - wanna know something?"
Sure I replied.
"OH. There are some DUMB teachers by the way. I saw this one video where…
(I stand up)
Hey I'm going now. You ok in here without an adult?
“Ya I’m over 14 so it’s ok. The sign says 14 and over”
Oh right, I forgot.
“You didn't forget. I never told you.”
Well that’s true too.
<I walk out of the gate and turn>
I'll see ya. - And don’t believe everything you see online.
As crazy as things are right now, let's not forget the kids are going through this too. And they're watching us. And they're listening.
Something I've been meaning to do more of.
I'd say that means no matter what's next,
the trip is already worth it.