Puzzling Without the Box

The chill is textural and significant in the concrete beneath my feet, before coffee and any concerted effort to wash through, ring out, the night prior.  Salt and sleep and dreams of stars brined and still bright behind the eyes obscure somewhat the morning light, the low slung clouds that dwarf ships stalled against the cold rising sun for dramatic affect.  And below the gray the river is a steely quiet beast feeding on the banks.  IMG_1663Observing, I can track the shiver through my body stiff and not quite ready to move in contrast to the creeping hangover.  It stretches when I stretch, follows me to the rest stop bathroom and back while memories surface and are blurred with visions of the unknown future somehow familiar in the rip current haze …

A night spent prowling the Goon Docks, naughty fish hook smiles sucking back cheap beer as sandstone cliffs and spiraling naked bodies 


glisten and smoothly erode with hardly an effort beyond gravity to resist the slow ceaseless pounding of man, wind and sea; a beautifully monstrous darkness in the night, long past the driftwood fortresses and speckled bonfires, a siren song roars beyond the break and hard-packed sand where lover’s dance and flirt with the edge of the Void.

And the Elders in the sky watch on and giggle as they bed down for a time, cozy and innumerable, embraced warmly by the storm worthy clouds. They drift as sound in other worlds, wander through dreams and rolling coastal dunes outstretched between there and now and forever, shaping the windswept landscapes of ghosts, grain by grain, leaving no trace of themselves.IMG_3104  In the present I watch them in the river, in my face reflected off the driver’s side window as I floss my teeth, a minty and newly formed habit I have adopted after my last visit to the dentist.  There is no correlation between the two actions, just multitasking in the interest of time and survival.  Breakfast and orange champagne are quickly becoming a priority.  Such is life in the Dismal Nitch, a storm beaten patch of earth where we made our camp for the night, across the river from the scene of the crime and coincidentally in another police jurisdiction.  Remain calm.  After the fake hanging the getaway was swift. Almost.  First there were beers.  And clam chowder.  And one or two more beers.  And then the strip club … it was a glorious birthday celebration after all.  And also our first day on the road.  From Seattle we only made it as far as Astoria, OR.  If it is possible to make a stranger town home in one day, we certainly made an honest attempt.  The Final Decision, however, must be suspended until all the pieces have been formed and proper deliberation has reached its zenith at the height of madness. The country and its many states of mind are only one large corner of the puzzle and there are still many to explore.

But first the car. IMG_1659 A puzzle within a puzzle, the final form all adaptable on the fly; a microcosm of our entire mentality for this adventure on four wheels.  And we are learning quickly.  Sleeping bags, blankets, air mats, head space, leg room, exit strategies, etc.  All must be taken into account as they are shifted and reformed, packed, unpacked and packed again keeping in mind all lines of sight.  And no cramming.  No forced placement of pieces.  When puzzling, that sort of naked, over-emotional aggression will not stand.  Simply step back, nurse the solution.  There are still 364 blank cardboard pieces laid out before us and no box lid in sight between now and whatever happens next …


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