Life has been a blur since the night C. and I left our car in the driveway of the little house we rented on the edge of the Vegas sprawl. We flew back to Ohio on a jam-packed redeye to collect our belongings. Traveling on Spirit Airlines is a mythic test of a person’s spiritual fitness, and I spent four hours squished in the middle seat, fighting a gargantuan woman for the armrest.

Four days later, I loaded a 15-foot U-Haul with our furniture and pointed it southwest. I drove alone to spare C. thirty hours in a juddering truck. She’ll fly to Vegas in a few days, probably on Spirit Airlines, and I’m not sure who will suffer more.

In Indiana, I drove past the world’s largest mailbox, and I slowed down to admire the holiday lights on a lone farmhouse in the night. In Missouri, I had a fantastic cup of cinnamon coffee at a Flying J before crashing at a Super 8 somewhere in the Ozarks. I followed the path of Route 66, pushing sixteen hours behind the wheel, and by the time I hit Oklahoma, a fugue state had taken hold. Highway hypnosis. White line fever.

A flipped semi burned in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 44. Hallucinatory signs began to appear: Visit the Infant Jesus of Prague. Exit right for Garth Brooks Boulevard. A billboard in Tulsa demanded freedom for women in Iran. As my U-Haul swerved across nine lanes of Amazon delivery trucks, a neon sign asked Are you prepared to meet Jesus? and I was certain I was going to die.

Billboards across the panhandle told me to find nirvana, win a free furnace, and invest in crypto. The radio encouraged me to purchase Patriot Supplies, a bundle of freeze-dried food that will help me “prepare for what’s coming” because I’ll definitely need at least 2000 calories per day. The radio said a record number of guns were confiscated from Americans this year, and eighty percent were loaded. An earthquake in West Texas sent tremors across Amarillo, but I felt only the shake of the truck. I saw a shooting star and a half-moon blazed in the rearview. A sign flew by like a koan: Gusty Winds May Exist.

By the time I left Texas, my vision was vibrating from the stutter and shake of the interstate. Rowdy families, sunburnt truckers, and teenage gangs crowded the Flying J at one o’clock in the morning. The motels in Tucumcari were booked, so I pushed another hundred miles west to my second Super 8, where I collapsed and dreamt about mileage. I woke up in New Mexico near a town called Las Vegas (pop. 13,157) which felt like an omen. A lone cow wandered down the ramp to Interstate 40. I sped across the Continental Divide and continued into Arizona.

In addition to the usual slate of vintage electro and motorik, I soundtracked my journey with an audiobook of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, one of those texts I’ve always felt like I’ve read even though I haven’t. The desert washed past my windshield as the narrator said, “The entrances to temples are flanked and defended by colossal gargoyles: dragons, lions, devil-slayers with drawn swords, resentful dwarves, winged bulls. These are the threshold guardians to ward away all incapable of encountering the higher silence within.”

A few miles west of Kingman, I hooked north on 93, where I was the only vehicle on a Saturday night. Entering Vegas felt like a dream as ‘Fade to Grey’ played on the dashboard while my headlights swooped along shadowy mountains on a vacant parkway. Then a field of light appeared below me, and I remembered Las Vegas means The Meadows.

Visage – Fade to Grey (12″ Version)

Polydor, 1980 | More