Arizona: day one.

Arizona.

On the cab ride: I thought I had escaped advertisements playing on the seat-back in front of me, but no; even the cab has that setup now. The ad playing now is for Proactiv solution; what are you saying about me, seat-back? Eventually I realize that the button in the bottom right hand corner turns the system off. I press it, and both the video and audio are mercifully muted.

Outside the window: palm trees, cacti, stucco, Spanish tile roofs. Car dealerships with cars gleaming out in front of air conditioned Quonset huts. Adobe-like strip malls, each one seeming to have its own strip club. It’s not until you’re in a city with strip clubs on every block that you realize how rare they are in California.

The land is dry and rocky. Occasional craggy mountains interrupt the skyline like the earth’s own molars. Vegetation is sparse and that somehow makes it look cleaner, spaced out as it is, as if someone arranged to have them there. I want to have my picture taken with a cactus but I’m too embarrassed to ask someone. Maybe a selfie with the cactus will suffice.

The cab driver is from California. Everyone comes from somewhere, but it seems all to often that they come from somewhere near you, doesn’t it? Our conversation is almost embarrassingly stereotypical: we talk about the weather and the traffic. Later on, in the line for hotel check-in, I meet another man who is from Napa, only 40 minutes away from where I live. Small world, I smile and say. He’s shaking his head. Small world indeed.

The coworkers in this office are extremely nice and well put together. Even though I’m off dating, I can’t help but feel attracted to a few of the women here. Is it only in the movies that these types of business meetings lead to a sensual rendezvous? I think it might be more of an age thing. Most of us are well into our 30’s, if not our 40’s, and we’ve traded our one night stands for 401k’s, our passionate trysts for housing situated in favorable school districts. Though, look at this now: a woman says that she likes my hair. My brain instantly overreacts and proposes the completely illogical proposition that she must want me.

I swear, this male brain of ours sometimes.

I realized why I have trouble writing. Because, typically, my days are the same. My sights are the same. There’s nothing new to inspire me.

Not so here. My muse has been unlocked and let free from its cage. My mind is thinking like a writer again. The realization is inspiring, and I make a very conscious and firm decision in my mind that I will keep traveling so that I may keep writing. And right after I make that declaration, I am filled with such a feeling of homesickness that for the first time I realize why they call it that. I am sick for my home. I want to be back in California, back in my apartment, in proximity to my children, so that if they need me, for any reason, I can come running.

I swear, this brain of mine sometimes.

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