Tuesday, February 28, 2012

OueeCheeTah, Kansas

Many years ago, in the middle of my struggles to learn English in my mid-teens and the overwhelming heat of the nights of Barcelona in the family living room, I laid down on the couch and watched a midnight Western, rescued from a vault of classics. The film's name was Wichita, a word that I did not quite recall until the opportunity to collaborate with Tyler came along. This is the song [click here] that still resounds in the depths of my subconscious, that cavernous voice announcing the name of the city that would hold the secret to my future, many years later.

Yes, it is real. Kansas is FLAT.

The trip from Brooklyn to Wichita in the *secret* vehicle was completely uneventful. Other than having the transmissions bushings shot and not being able to differentiate between first and third gear, my mighty steed fared well. Rachel performed impeccably as my loyal navigator and awakener, playing music of all different sorts and introducing me to Transcendental Meditation from the hand of David Lynch. She had quite a hard time in Indianapolis with her breakfast:

BARTENDER: What y'all having?
RACHEL: I'll get a waffle, an orange juice and a latte.
MIGUEL: *nods in surrender*
RACHEL: Coffee. With cream.
BARTENDER: How about you?
MIGUEL: Waffle. And orange juice.

Despite this conversation not being fully accurate to the dot, the main point of such interchanges was to show the fact that lattes are non-existent in the Midwest. Not only that, but also the fact that what followed Rachel's request was a pool of brown water tasting like burnt cardboard. It somewhat made me happy that overpriced coffee and the myths (BS, in less refined terms) it wants to surround itself with –Starbucks saving the World one cup at a time- were not present in this humble Waffle House. It really made my day to realize the absence of all those complicated cosmopolitanisms of the City, and wonder at the difference in the expectations that each little subculture in the same country has of something as basic as a cup of hot coffee.

Anyway. We made it to Wichita. We met with Tyler, and discussed some logistics. Booked a flight, and missed it thinking that forty-five minutes would be enough at the Wichita airport. We re-booked it at the desk free of charge and stopped in Denver, as it is customary. Then, we arrived to SFO and spent some quality time with our friends for the next two days, until Burlingame Motors opened on Monday to pick up my wagon, Newport, the 300TD.

Beauty in every corner! How could I leave somewhere like THIS?! Ah, too expensive.

Much like Rome, San Francisco is built around several hills, including this one.

Rachel and I waited patiently at the subway terminal in Millbrae. And, soon enough, there it was, a flash of clean chrome and wet blue skin: Newport, my loyal friend and reliable machine, making its appearance after two months of being apart. The workshop had adjusted the valves and tweaked the injection pump to cut off the shaking at idle, which allowed for smooth, buttery cruising on the 101. I picked up my stuff between the grunts of my landlord, who was deeply annoyed at the new tenant and his wife squandering money on a pyramidal real estate scheme. But soon enough we were back on the road, heading North to Petaluma, with everything my existence had been reduced to, in the back of my wagon.

Sandwiched between my top two life favorites.

We stayed overnight with the Mooneys up in the North Bay. I know I have mentioned them before, but I would like to express how important they have been in my life: Papa and Mama Mooney have been true parents to me while I lived in relative isolation in the Bay Area. I not only learned home improvement out of happy accidents punching holes in the house with Mr. Mooney –deeply annoying his wife-, or the true human nature of animals –especially Buster, the strongest, most affectionate three-legged cat I have ever met-; but plain and simply, what the spirit within the heart of a tight, loving family is. Soppy memories aside, I felt from the first time what encouragement from a father feels like, in some degree or the other; or how a mother is the balance and caution of a home, full of adorable -yet wise- advice. I shall forever treasure this sense of complicity with them; this humble, tender warmth that flows within this exceptional pack, and the kind people they are surrounded with!

Trotting down to downtown Los Angeles after the storm.

Before leaving, Papa Mooney volunteered his Canon XL2 video camera. "Whenever you make any money, you can pay us back. We'd like to sell this camera, but we are not in a hurry", he said with half a smile and a tender look full of promise. Thank you, my dear Mooneys, from this little room in Kansas, across fiber optics and satellites, across the public eye of the World, thank you for being part of my life and letting me be part of yours. Thank you.

Eighty thousand miles on my way to Hollywood.

Thanks to Tyler's friend in Pasadena, we now had another [hugely] fancy camera, a high-end Panasonic that had been accumulating dust in his closet. During our visit down in Los Angeles, we connected with the Cohen family –who shared their personal projects with us and revealed their enthusiasm to collaborate with us-; strengthened our relationship, got more equipment, visited Hollywood and Beverly Hills and discovered the TV Show Parks and Recreation, crowded by characters that somewhat echo acquaintances from our past. A very special moment was the night before departure, when I had the best Reuben sandwich EVER with Jim B. at Canter's. We not only shared our passion for cars, life and women; but I had the pleasure to drive Jim's 300hp W126 Mercedes 560SEC, which responded without alteration and glided like silk after 21 years of faithful service. He not only let me drive his baby, but bought me the first tank of diesel towards this life-changing trip, my move to Wichita, Kansas.

Benzfest at the gas station, about to use all the cleaner fluid in every single window!

The next two days were asphalt, desert and a LOT of snow, followed by infinite plains and environments where a Spanish man and a Brazilian woman found themselves beyond what "out of place" can convey to the average reader –read: no guns signs at the doors of restaurants-.

*Chirp-chirp-chirp-chirp* Short sleeves. In February. Snow blizzard 2 hours later.

Taking the scenic route, after visiting chunks of Route 66.

Guess who is that shadow on the road in the Texas Panhandle sunset!

And well, here I am, at Tyler's home, in a room I am renting from him, all set up with a magnificent 100-year-old desk with 300-year-old wear and the computer that I take on every single one of my travels, surrounded by nothing but support and enthusiasm to make this online TV series possible. With all the thousands in equipment that I have bought recently, the cars for the show, and my move-in costs, my savings are dropping substantially. Hopefully I should be able to make some money through other means possible, and keep up this idea that has taken me so far. It is what I believe I should be doing, it is my call in life.

Many people have already congratulated me for following my dreams, and have shared with me the projects they left behind, with an air of regret. Well, let me tell you something: no matter what age you are, what background you come from, there is always a way to voice your aspirations to the world. And if you do it in such a way that your true call shows through your voice, in a way that your passion gets unbridled, in a way that it makes your eyes glassy with hope and your heart swollen with pride, believe me, the world will listen and destiny will conspire to help you. It only takes the immense courage to bet grandly, without fear, without the slightest thought of future regrets, because trying everything possible only grants the satisfaction and the confidence of those who fly, of those who rebel, of those who carve their own paths with a smile in their faces and a peaceful rest at night.

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