Writing on The Move: A Guest Blog By Chris Nugent
Chris Nugent is a free-lance writer of fiction and essays. He is currently working on his first novel, Devil In The Dark, as well as a photo-essay book project dealing with off road exploration. He recently relocated to northwest Washington.
We writers are always searching for an escape. A haven where our minds are free to explore the depths. Writing as the stories bubble to the surface into the bright light of day and a lot of times deep in the night. In our humble blue home on Ash Drive in Fort Collins, I had an office in a back bedroom. Some part of our house was always under renovation, but I made sure to do this room first.
Santa Fe Red on the walls, laminate hardwood flooring, white trim. I hung photographs of old warships and planes on the walls. In the back corner rested a submarine rescue hood from the U.S.S. Lafayette. I tapped away in my briny sanctuary. Each keystroke a closing and locking of a hatch and an opening of a valve.
As with all of us, life’s waves seeped into my refuge. My wife burned out and worn down at a dead end job needed a change. An all-too-brief discussion, our love for things green, my family in Olympia, and the romance of Cascadia set our course. The Pacific Northwest was the place for us.
Our star set, the photos came down, computer shut off, and the escape hood stowed but kept close at hand. In a flurry of action we packed kids, animals and stuff into two trucks. Rubber met the road.
Over the weathered, but inky black top we went. Over the flash-frozen Rockies into the snow-blanketed dun of the Western Slope, where my wife’s family waited to celebrate Christmas. After four days on the ranch, we pressed on, chased by frostbite over the state line and into the high, barren desert of Utah. A north turn to Salt Lake, where, in the hotel there I unfolded the laptop and bashed out a lamentation or two. Click. Save. Sleep.
Again the laptop and breakfast on the bed in the room while my wife showered. Over Kerouac’s mad road, we found our rhythm. The frenzied loading and unloading of children and suitcases onward, ever onward. Up into Idaho and God will we make it to Oregon today? Running low on gas and give-a-damn but don’t matter because there is yet another hotel. Showers are for sissies. Feed the kids, thousand yard stare at the glow of the screen and stare some more but the words ain’t comin’.
I continue to search for words in the brief moments of quiet only to find myself stranded. Precious few like a tap that’s been shut for the winter. Slake your thirst with what you can get while you crane your neck under the muse’s faucet. Slap the machine closed and back into the Jeep for another three hundred miles.
Cascadia greets us with liquid poetry from the sky and a barely-visible river called Columbia. We hurl over her storied steel bridge and stare through the windshield at the cars, and the trucks hauling goods and people over the watercourse. Maybe I didn’t write yesterday but damn if the words aren’t coming now as fast as the raindrops spattering on the hood.
All the stories clamor to be heard over the moan of the tires and make me want into pull into the emergency lane to capture them. Brushing past Yakima, finally, and up over Snoqualmie Pass where the spirit of Sasquatch tosses me a few more sentences. Down into Seattle and north a bit where we burst into our new apartment, throwing sleeping bags and wet coats to the floor. Survivors washed in with the rain.
Amid the flotsam and jetsam of our travels rests the submarine escape hood from my old office. I am waist deep in a deluge of words, struggling with a pipe wrench and a wad of rags to stop leaks.
Open laptop, stare at the bare wall and wonder what I’ll rescue from the sea tonight.