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The Price of Mortality – Weed, California

Driving through Weed, California, we stumbled across the town’s graveyard just on the outskirt of town.  It strikes me as a place of contemplation and serenity not of endless nothingness.

Death ceremony in many cultures is seen as a passing from one life to another.  The cemetery is seen as a proverbial truck rest stop from life to the afterlife. Much of our trip is passing through towns much like Weed.  Nothing really spectacular that draws people to them, a rest stop, a coffee break or a gas fill up.

The thing that attracts me to small towns is the beginning and end of each town. Welcome to Weed, California”.  Followed by “You are Now Leaving Weed, California”.  Simple. To the point.  You always know when when starts and when one ends.  I suppose I like that about life but life doesn’t always follow that algorithm.  No, life is a complex and as simple as you want and there are always curve balls and ironic twists to everything you encounter on the road.

That is another thing I like about road trips.  You never really know where you end up.  Sure, you plan for a set destination the way we did.  Somewhere down the Pacific Coast.  What I mean is the journey to getting there. By car.  Done in a week.  Try not to kill your companion along the way.  All road trips have their quirks and they can try even the most patient of travelers.  Frequent bathroom breaks, not asking for directions, inability to follow the gps directions or review motel ratings can test anyone.  We are travelers on the road to life.  No kids this time.  Just two people and the endless road ahead of us.

The earliest recollection of road tripping I did was with my family.  I was a product of the late 60’s and 70’s.  My parents were immigrant Koreans.  My dad had the wanderer bug in him and we, my mom and my sister and I would often cram ourselves into our trusty blue and brown station wagon and hit the road on the weekends and summer breaks.  My family traveled up and down the California Coast, up and down to the Eastern coast to Florida to visit relatives.  My dad was always wandering.  Always in search of something he couldn’t quite put his finger on.  We listened to a lot of Elvis Presley on these road trips.  My dad had a fondness for the Gospel Elvis.  Something about the way he crooned to Jesus affected my dad.  He identified with Elvis in a way.  Singing his soul.  Saving his soul through music.  Rock and Roll, baby.  My mom would roll her eyes and we kids, would giggle when my dad would belt out another Elvis song as we drove down the highway.



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