Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Failure of the Day: Nature

We spent much of the weekend in Sacramento. Chris had to oversee another store's inventory, which started at 9AM on Saturday morning, and rather than having to drive there at some ungodly early hour, I met him after work on Friday and we drove out there the night before and got a hotel room. Nice enough, A/C and HBO—both equally necessary because the area is both seriously fucking hot and utterly devoid of interesting things to do on a Friday night or otherwise.

After a nice dinner (at Wienershnitzel, of course), we went for a drive. Chris, for all his hellish daily commuting, still seems to really enjoy driving as long as he doesn't have to be anywhere in particular by any predefined time. And he knows that area—he lived there for 15 years—so although it was dark as pitch and the white dots of civilization grew more and more distant, he was relaxed and happy with the windows rolled down and the radio blaring. As soon as we left the main road, though, I became convinced that he was taking me into the wilderness to dispose of my body.

Ok, not really. But we were in the wilderness of rural Rocklin and that makes me nervous. I don't like nature. I mean, I like pictures of it and all, but really I don't need to get it on my shoes. Because here's the thing: driving through all that dirt and weeds and stuff, my mind has only one place to go—my own personal vulnerability and uselessness. The scenario is always the same: Chris is somehow incapacitated, I don't know how to drive a goddamn stick, and thanks to someone's brilliant idea that I quit smoking, I don't even have a lighter with which to provide a source of illumination. And there are bears. There are always bears.

When it comes right down to it, I don't know how to do anything useful. I've known this for forever, since way back in the days when I craved the end of the world so I could be Molly Ringwald in The Stand (still one of my all-time Top 5 fantasies). I can't hammer a nail or set a bone or clean a fish. And back then, all the doctors were still telling me that I was infertile so I realized that I was completely useless, including biologically. And although that infertility thing turned out to be not so much the case, it's still true that if the world ever needs to be rebuilt from scratch, I am really seriously not your girl.

And I think that's what freaks me out about the wilderness, even when it is just a couple miles away from the freeway. There is no civilization; the world really does have to be re-created. And I'm not sure how much world can be made out of a tube of chapstick and half a pack of Dentine, but it's probably not very much.


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