day 34: SLO down

Leaving LA was easier than I thought. Not living in highs or lows is still taking a lot of getting used to. This skin either needs to be shed or this soul needs to grow into it, I’m not sure which. The drive passed with little emotion, unlike the last ten years of extreme anxiety attacks when winding through mountain roads. I found myself slowly becoming content with the right lane and the speed limit the further I got away from the city. From 90mph on the 10 and 101 I gradually fell to cruising along with the trucks at 65, and letting the hurried rush by, not investing in their cause or chaos.

Lounging in a giant pillow rested in a nook that was built into the north wall, the thick night breeze is pouring through the window over me like silk, and I’m sinking into San Luis Obispo. Music is humming over a bluetooth speaker, the bass levels are high and muffling the singers but it’s fitting for the mood. Ambient lights along the ceiling nooks make the one room converted garage glow a deep yellow, highlighting the wood on the vaulted ceiling, washing over the bed below. There’s a barking dog somewhere down the mountain, but the crickets are competing for center stage. I didn’t see any houses too close on my drive up so there’s no telling where those neighbors are. It’s pitch black out the window, save for the cell phone tower to the east blinking red, so it must be far.

This land is rich in individuality against a palette of sand. Singular plants of bright green and yellow, vineyards with sparse rows of grapes lining the roads, trees dotted on the landscape providing solitary moments of shade, even the cows seem to be loners as they grazed the fields by themselves instead of in group. The crunch of the sand in each footstep is so loud that it’s a constant reminder you’re the only human around. No pools of waving green grass in every yard, no blocks of buildings stitched together by grids of streets, no towering forests or pristine lake fronts. A single hawk circled the hillsides this afternoon, her screeches echoing over me while I sat in the setting sun, keeping warm against the cold breeze coming in. Whether or not these things are alone, or stand apart, in this desert by choice, I do not know.

I wanted to drink yesterday, but was able to brush it off. Today I played out scenario after scenario of how I’ll break while I’m here. The wine tour maybe, or a night of vodka next to a fire outside, or the beers at that BBQ joint down the mountain (because who eats BBQ without beer?). Or maybe I’ll get a good rye and make the last drink I had the first I come back to. It would make all of this time I have go by faster, it would make this blase mood finally pick a side, it would help me feel like some of these feelings were not my fault and that all these relationships are expendable.

But I didn’t drink today. Thirty three days down. There is hope that tomorrow’s sunrise brings me inspiration. That SLO brings me a schedule to follow and an environment to not be distracted in. Perhaps this avoidance of the billboards, the store fronts, the invites to get a drink, the bar next to bar next to fucking bar….perhaps this avoidance is preventing me from strengthening my resolve. Or this vulnerability is a wound that needs to heal safely so as not to get infected. Either way, I’ll keep working on myself tomorrow, and embrace this hope tonight.

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