the circular runner

A Few More Thoughts on Solitude…

In life, observations, Uncategorized on November 28, 2011 at 10:55 pm

For those of you who read the last post on my Thanksgiving down in Los Angeles, you know that I went through a town called Soledad while driving back. I was kind of in a caffeine-induced mania so I did not touch on a couple things that I think pretty important. OK, actually, there’s just one thing and that thing is space. What I’m about to say is pretty true of Los Angeles and it was certainly true of Soledad. In fact, I’d say it’s true anywhere that cars rule the scene. What am I talking about?  You ask. Well, it is the fact that if you walk in one of those environs where people usually don’t walk, you feel like you are either transgressing or going off the grid or both.

Let me explain what I mean with an example from my trip that I left out of yesterday’s post. When I pulled into Starbuck’s parking lot, my bladder was not overflowing. If it had a gauge, I’d put it at about the halfway mark. But being male or human or both, my desire for things goes up exponentially when I know I can’t have the thing, which is exactly what happened when I entered Starbucks only to find a line for the loo twice as long as the line for coffee. After deciding not to give into that male/human need to need what I can’t have, I decided to order a coffee, but then, the need to need a toilet grew inside me–I know this because that need stated pressing down on my bladder, which made it impossible not to want to pee ASAP.

But what could I do?

I stood in the bathroom line for a couple minutes and started feeling myself break into that little side-to-side shuffle that little kids do when they have to go. As I waited for some guy to do his business and then come out sheepishly 10 minutes later, I realized I couldn’t do the same for the other seven people in front of me. So, I take it on the road. I leave my ordered coffee on the counter and go seeking other bathrooms.

The Starbucks was in a strip mall, but there weren’t a lot of bathrooms to be had in the liquor store, laundry mat, and Walgreens. I decided to cross the parking lot and walk across one of those tiny strips of plants that developers put to separate one parking lot from another and cross this second parking lot to the gas station that it belongs to. It is at this point that I feel I’m transgressing. Parking lots are not for foot travel. And those strips of garden are there for more than just beauty–in case any of you thought that was their purpose. They are there to draw a line in the asphalt–a line that is quite obvious when you are in a car since you wouldn’t cross it in a car unless you were drunk and in a SUV. A line that most people respect unless you are a modern-day hobo looking for respite from civilization (read corprate hot spots like Pizza Hut, Shell Gas, Denny’s and Starbucks, etc.) or a man needing to need the bathroom he cannot have.  I got looks. I guess that’ what I’m saying. And people locked their windows as I passed them. I’m not apologizing, mind you. I’m not sorry–not in the least. I was able to empty my bladder at the gas station bathroom that had seen better days but that provided me with the relief I so required at that moment.

It’s been a while since I’ve read lit crit, but all of this brings to mind a word I used to struggle with, and that word is “liminal.”  That’s right, if you’ve ever wondered what the word means, you need not look further than adjoining parking lots at rest stops separated by stunted plants that will never grow because they are surrounded by fumes and asphalt. If I’ve learned anything, I’d say it’s that I shouldn’t fear that word or what it describes.  In fact, I’d advise a little more liminality for everyone.


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