Where am I? The Central Valley of California has a real geography, of farm roads and rivers and cities, but the the long, thin twilight zone of Interstate 5 has only its own reference points: about an hour downwind from the doomed, stinking cattle of Harris Ranch, between the two closed state rest areas, past the towering diesel sign, still a long way from Starbucks.
I love driving through the valley for itself, but I may love this weird road more. I love the light and I love the wind. Coming out from under the cool, foggy July of San Francisco, I especially love the wind. Hot and solid, pushing on me and stirring me to push back. It makes me want to write, too. Notes on the book, a blog post typed in a parking lot and uploaded through a truck stop wi-fi.
I know a lot of people who find that the gray calm of San Francisco makes them want to draw inside—inside their offices and their heads—to write. I have a hard time keeping my focus and energy in gray calm. It's in the noisiest and most public places and the most aggressive weather that I find myself wanting to work. Maybe it's because, when I was young and felt myself trapped in a chilly fog of a life, writing was the way I found to push my way out and engage with the world. As private an act as it is, in my gut it excites me most when it pulls me out of myself. When it knocks me around and agitates me like the valley wind.