“Do you want to come over? We can go get an ice cream or something…” I asked her. We needed something to momentarily interrupt our daily broadcasts; the signals that kept us grounded and happy in this precious patriarchal, capitalist society just were not strong enough anymore.
She responded with an “I guess,” to which we both hung up, and I waited her arrival. When she arrived, I got into her fairly new Mercury Sable, the car her mother bought her when her auction-purchased cars kept breaking down. Then we headed for the interstate.
Interstate-10 runs from Florida to California, or this is what I was told. We headed westward, not intending to go to Hollywood, but somewhere. And we talked, which is the best thing two non-drinking, non-druggists girls can do in a situation that must have been similar to how Kerouac and Hoffman felt in their respectable decades. Because what we were in search of, what we were wanting couldn’t have been all too different from what they internally wanted.
We neared the New Orleans International airport when the plan fully began to take shape. “I want to start a commune; an intellectual, pretentious artists commune,” I said. It spilled out. How tired of school we both were, and the unchallenging academic process that faced us. The classrooms were filled with people having no desire for knowledge, but wanting the piece of paper that gives them a better paying job. They excited like chickens being chased at the thought of an easy course. Why should we waste our parent’s money on “education,” when we doubted the process? The twenty-first century’s version of human nature featuring mankind as a creature thinking that money and materialism are the keys to happiness, versus the repressed natural instinct for freedom and beauty.
And as the conversation took wind, the scenery around us changed; mini-malls and fast food restaurants soon diminished, and nature began to take over. We reached a bridge that went for miles, and watching the yellow stripe dividing the road in half was a real-life version of the opening sequence to David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Nothing surrounded us except for Louisiana marsh, dampened swamp water that birthed sporadic trees and occasional shrubs. In the distance a golden light lit up the reddened, blackened sky; it glowed as if the atomic bomb dropped in Hammond, but instead it was a factory creating an unknown product. Society hid what it thrived on, treating it like the redheaded stepchild. A wrong exit, an attempt to lead us back to civilization really showed us a land that man forgot. She turned on her blinker so that the turn would be visible in the blackness.
We joked about the resemblance of our situation to a Hollywood teen horror film; two girls taking a short road trip take a wrong turn into a desolate region where they accidentally end up killing a horrible swamp creature. Or so they think. “Bam-bam-bum.” We made the horror film sounds. As we approached civilization again, the conversation returned to the “commune.”
She decided there were certain types of people we needed; I got to be the photographer, and I wanted to be the spokesperson. She would be the fashionista, who made sure everyone looked good. It is 2003, after all, and we have to look good. We would need a graphic artist, who doubled as a web genius. I wanted to create absurd performance art; maybe I have a complex like Bottom, thinking I can and will be able to play all of the parts. The conflict rose that we might not have any way to support ourselves; because even though we were seemingly trying to separate ourselves from society, we still had to function within it. She suggested we venture into the pornography industry, an old joke between us that always rises when we want to make quick cash. While we joked about being pornographers, we both knew there was seriousness in the other’s jests. I recommended that we actually try to sell the art that we create in our commune. Jim Fitzmorris was the man we realized we needed to go to in making our dream come true; Jimmy knew the ways obtain a living space; he would know the procedure in raising funds and obtaining publicity for our venture. She was not up to the adventure of stealing gas and fruit like Hoffman suggests in Steal This Book. So, asking Jim was our next plan.
I looked at her and said, “I want to roll around in a slab of mud wearing Christian Dior and stilettos, and call it art.” Her eyes grew wide, and she agreed enthusiastically. It was not about whether it was “art” or not; it was about our creative abilities, and attempt in finding meaning in the world. I would be able to paint a wall red, splatter paint nude bodies and photograph them. Since I created it, it would be art. We could rebel against any set artistic standard, past or present. We could reinvent the present.
Her history background came out, “We’d be like the Lost Generation of the 30s who moved to France.”
I grew pensive. “We could call ourselves the Found Generation. We do not want to be lost like the past generations. We want to find the world, and find ourselves.”
As we pulled into Sonic’s drive-through, a favorite place from our hometown, we discussed what it would be, or mean, to be part of this. A new revolutionary movement. We would be glamourous and intelligent, artistic and pretentious; we would spend our time with the poor American man, learning of his struggles. It would then be ours for interpretation, and to empathize with. It would be refusal to succumb to ignorance because we wanted to remain blissfully self-involved. We could reach maximum human potential if we opened our eyes to our surroundings.
The ride home got quiet. We both considered the possibilities and ramifications of doing this. I knew doing it would free my aching heart. She sipped her Root beer Blended Float, and I drank my Chocolate Malt until she dropped me off at my residence. She went over to the not-her-boyfriends house. She went over there no longer crying, but holding hope that maybe there was a point to it all. We could find our freedom, and do that which pleased us.
When I talked to her the next day, she told me she spent the night in tears. Our great plan, our liberation, had been berated by her “not-a-boyfriend,” who made her feel like it was foolish. “Every time I’m tired with the way my life is, I should just run away and start a commune,” he told her. That’s when she started to cry again