Eventually, the general end-of-trip feeling took over. Coffee in Grand Island, than the interstate. Tired, quiet. I felt like we should do something when we got home but my idea was shot down.
The penis, the trailor parks and used car dealers of West O street. It was colder than it had been during the trip. A ride home from Becky, a shower, a trip to the student union to check my various internet holdings, a reluctant trip to the grocery store, in bed by ten. In bed until eleven.
Seven weeks, I've been at this, with various interuptions for schoolwork and the odd job. I've never tackled anything this big before. I'm still don't know exactly why.
I knew that I was going to write something about the big trip to Whiteclay. Once I started I realized that the whole eighty four hours was, if not a single day, than a single conscious experience, that the mundane details affected how we perceived the big moments and couldn't be seperated from them. So I included the hangovers and the matza bread and the penis pills. It's all of a piece.
Our relationships to each other are subtly different, but you wouldn't know it from the sight of us. We do what English majors do. We drink microbrew we can't afford, we mock society, we beg our way to C's in any class that offers practical vocational knowledge. It's summer break now.
Dan and I continue to compliment each other disturbingly well. He's not as cynical and outgoing as he seems. I'm not as philosophical or "different" as I make myself out to be. We're something resembling a functional person together. Paul is still a bit mysterious, not quite as disheveled as Dan or I, and inaudaciously talented. Becky continues to call out our bullshit with a level of accuracy and compassion that's simply amazing.
My emotions are more intense than they were before. My strengths are less important to me, my failings more important, than they used to be. I like to think I'm starting to actually feel a sense of duty to others that I only grudgingly aknowledged before and completely ignored before that. A big reason why I did this is to see if I could focus on something that was both more personal than politics or pop culture and not so much about myself. The results are mixed at best I know.
But Warren, the 28-year-old who called himself "pretty old" and seemed perfectly ready and willing to die, isn't going away as long as I'm here. The Whiteclay boys, waiting for their chance to not wake up, I'm going to care about them as much as they care about themselves, I think I can handle that commitment.
I've seen what happens when an isolated place and the larger society agree to ignore the existance of each other and I refuse to stand for it. We are all of a piece, the best and the worst of us, the most and the least. I am not a socialist or a Randian, I don't believe that freedom and justice can be provided by the state or the "market". We must create these things within ourselves and then maybe we can spread it to the larger world around us. This means recognizing our universal vanity and depravity. It means realizing that heritage, tradition, common interests and personality types, common language, culture, etc. do nothing to inoculate us from our own humanity. Things will continue to be rotten until we stop treating anything produced by our dirty hands as sacred. That includes our home towns, our families, our country, and our churches. (I mean especially the church.)
Any vestigal notions I may have had about becoming a social dropout again are dead now. I'm a part of this country now. I've signed the moral contract and I will contribute, somehow or another. I will mock us whenever I feel the need to, but only with our best interests in mind. I am here, and I am us.
I go to Pioneers Park on weekends and take in the statues of things destroyed by the pioneers. A giant Indian, a giant buffalo, natural pririe grass. The west end of the park, where the grassland starts to take over, looks much like Wounded Knee.
Millions killed in the Native genocide. Thousands of pioneers killed by the Platte River; Typhiod, Cholora, dysentery. The whole of the Great Plains is a mass grave. Some spots get markers.
They lay there under our feet. They killed and died for the right to call themselves the people, and the right to keep the delusion that this was an honor.