I had walked down Sixth Street, Old Route 66, in Amarillo, many times, but this was the first time I had walked down it actually shopping for something specific. I almost felt like a young suburbanite buying decorative things for the home. You can buy almost any kind of antique on Sixth Street, if you are crazy enough to want it.
I edged into a store, into an era that had ended in my teens, but was constantly being brought back from the dead by trendy Americans. I felt a little uneasy, like a kid just before he gets lost in a museum.
I found what I wanted and walked out into the odd reflected light of the first decade of the 21st century. I walked two blocks and turned into one of those places that Jack Kerouac used to hang out in. I didn't see Jack but this was one of those places you could almost hear the leftover conversations and smell the whiff of sweet and stale perfume wafting in the aroma of the coffee. One thing about all night places, in the daytime there are few customers and you are not interrupted as you hold onto your biggest memories like a weary circuit preacher hugging a ragged Bible.
I drank more coffee and looked out the window as history ticked by on the already ancient street outside. The past and the present are deeply intertwined I thought. History is what happens when one of them gets a little ahead of the other. When a couple of kids on skateboards rolled by, I closed my eyes for a moment amd it almost sounded like a street car.
I walk alot now. There is a difference between the street and the road, I thought about it as I walked down one and remembered the other. Shadows seemed to shiver around me as I walked down a contridiction...Sixth Street.. Old Route 66... The Mother Road.....
I must have walked a while because by the time I reached the little store that specialized in Beer, Cigarettes, and Energy Pills I felt like a shadow myself, only there was no place to fall. The afternoon, like a well rehearsed magicians trick had turned into night.
The guys who ran the store were of a heavy rather uncertain ethnicity. They looked Italian, Greek, Lebanese or Pakistani depending on how you felt at the time. That evening they looked Pakistani. Nobody was from here anyway, I thought. Nobody spiritually speaking was ever from anywhere. Everyplace and everybody was merely a station along the way.
This is the legacy of the road. I headed home, in my memory I saw a clear picture of a dusty pickup and an empty rural Texas Road.
A door knob distributor, a Bible Salesman or a traveling nipple jewelry salesman may think they know the road, and perhaps they do. It is their territory they say. The road does not belong to them, nor do they belong to the road in my mind. But thats just me.
By the time I got back home, the road like my memory, receded like a lukewarm love affair.
A bright red Porsche sat in front of my house. It probably belonged to one of Janis Joplin's friends. It seemed out of place in the reeling darkness of my neighborhood.
Tonight...so did I.
3 months ago