Unfolding the Map
William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) doesn't stop in Fallon, preferring to drive to Reno. I will, revisiting my own brief stop there, at a city park, in 2010. Stay awhile with me, and click on the map thumbnail at right to geographically place Fallon.
"I drank my beer and took my case down the road, through the irrigated plain at Fallon..."
Blue Highways: Part 5, Chapter 10
We stopped at Fallon, my wife and I, on our trip out to California. It had been a long day of driving and we needed a place to have some lunch before we continued our push toward Lake Tahoe. It was hot, as it was in summer. We found a little park in the downtown area. I remembered a train in the park, and a nice shaded part with trees. We parked and we found a spot underneath a tree. Our dog, Zia, was happy to get out of the car and stretch a little.
There were quite a few people there. It was a weekend day, and I remember a young couple lounging underneath a neighboring tree, kissing once in a while, and then talking in muted tones. Occasionally the girl, who I remember as being blond, looked over at Zia. Eventually they walked off, hand in hand, toward another part of the park.
That drive, while a great drive and something that I wanted to do, had been a difficult one for me. I had recently had issues with a woman with whom I'd grown relatively close in a short period of time, and then just as quickly imploded. It had put a strain on my marriage. Even though it had been about six months since I had spoken with her, I was still processing what had happened and why and trying to make sense of it all.
It was a shock to me to realize that I didn't have as much control over life as I thought I had. I had spent a lot of time as an adult, after a traumatic childhood, trying to limit any further emotional shocks. My one bugaboo was relationships. Certain types of people seemed to keep coming into my life and bringing out of me a self that was needy, that feared abandonment. Of course, everything would play out in this way: I would meet someone interesting and who seemed interested in me as a person, I would get emotionally invested, I'd get myself into a situation where I felt emotionally abused, and then they'd "abandon" me. Just like in my childhood.
Of course, not all of my relationships were like this. There were people with whom relationships ended, either through attrition or because they had run their courses. That was fine. There was a beginning, a middle and an end and enough communication where there was a mutuality to the finality. But the other kinds of relationships, where one minute people liked you and the next they hated you and you didn't understand why...they kept popping up in my life, and I kept getting entangled in them.
As I sat with Megan and Zia in this small park in Fallon, I was still emotionally reeling. Here I was, 46 years old, and still dealing with childhood abandonment issues. When would it ever end?
Of course, I was missing the obvious. My dog was stretched out on the grass beside me. My wife was putting together sandwiches. She had been with me for 14 years of marriage to that point, and 8 years of a relationship before that. She had put up with my issues, even that latest one, and was still sticking around. The answer was right in front of me...and I was dwelling on something that I thought outlined my failures as a person, but which I should not have let go as far as I did.
I wish it were that easy for me. All that time, and up to now, the answer has always been very simple. Yet I often get bogged down in my inadequacies, my perceived failures, my shortcomings. I don't give enough credit where it is due. My wife hasn't left me, my true friends haven't abandoned me. They haven't abused me and have stopped me from abusing myself. That's where my energies should lie, rather than with the inner and outer demons that still bedevil me from time to time.
As I watched that couple walk across the park to find another place to be intimate, I wished them well and that the course of their relationship would run as smoothly as possible throughout whatever course it was meant to take. Zia stretched, and I scratched her. Megan offered me a sandwich, and I ate under the cool shade of a tree in Fallon.
Back in the day, I was a HUGE Styx fan. Sure, they tended to do "concept" albums, and they weren't the most original thinkers around. But I liked them. They had good musicianship and in the late 70s and early 80s, I was not old enough to have jumped on the Beatles bandwagon and was still wary of harder bands like Zeppelin. In particular, Fooling Yourself spoke to me because in many ways, I was an angry young man. Though I'm not really that young anymore, occasionally when I hear this song it reminds me that I always had hope I could rise above personal difficulties. I mostly have.
If you want to know more about Fallon
Next up: Reno, Nevada