Journey to the West
In this picture I was 15 and my mother was 50 and this is a store at a Mexican border town. I was quite a nerd.
1969 was the year my mother had to have a mastectomy. I wasn't sure what was going on. I knew she found a lump and it was malignant, but exactly what happened in the surgery wasn't said out loud and I had to guess. That summer we drove out West in our Plymouth Barracuda, staying at motels in New Orleans and Houston, and in a tent in national parks in Big Bend and in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma. It was a healing journey for all of us. On the long drive through mythical southwest landscape we listened to the car radio. At the beginning of the trip my favorite band was the Baja Marimba Band, and I got a couple of sombreros and ponchos in a border town. Outfitting myself for an imaginary album cover, maybe. We were on the road when Strawberry Fields Forever, which had been released two years earlier, and which I'd heard, finally reached my brain, and a switch was flipped. Dylan also reached me on this trip. Creedence Clearwater Revival was big that year and we heard Bad Moon Rising over and over. Mom said she never heard anything like that before. They liked BST's Spinning Wheel, because of the horns. We explored Anasazi and Aztec ruins, and living Pueblo, Navajo, and Hopi culture. A wholly Other America. Mom always recalled the climb up a ladder in Mesa Verde cave dwellings as a moment of regaining courage.