"It's barbaric to put just soy sauce on something," Dave explained. He had driven to Baltimore to make the trip back up to New York with me--everyone was leaving and we begged off of me taking a bus. "I have this idea that I can cook, when really I just put soy sauce and whatever vegetable I have and tofu in a container and stir it all." He said you have to balance the soy sauce with something to make it a decent thing to eat, and that's what he had done, and I can't remember what he used anymore. We leaned back into our seats, at a rest stop somewhere along the turnpike, and agreed about broccoli rabe. His car reminded me of one my father used to drive, and by the time we got to Bed Stuy, we were exhausted but not tired.
2. No Shit Bonnaroo
In Tennessee I ate things I couldn't digest, which is a certain breed of strategy. Lots of peanut butter on lots of bread and Jesse told me to eat with my face to the plate if it was too messy with my hand. "Here," he demonstrated, "I mean, it's not the same as eating with one hand and wiping your ass with the other." Fifteen of us stopped to eat together, still hours from Manchester, and ordered of Canadian bacon and our waitress's name was Susie Q. Dustin leaned in quietly and told Alix and I, "Until we get back to Baltimore--no one's Jewish and no one's gay."
Susie Q. No joke. We all squeezed each others' legs under the table but looked straight from the waist up, and drove through Chattanooga side-swiping the air as it grew hotter.
3. Beyond Eugene
Noah had a third a jar of peanut butter left, so he figured he better not buy anymore. For my first meal in Oregon, we stopped at The Rodeo in Junction City, ate sandwiches made indisputably, almost obscenely, of meat, threw our peanut shells gleefully to the ground. We caught a ride to Harrisburg just by asking someone directions. "Harley like the motorcycle," he introduced himself, talked about the eleven hours he'd been driving alone and the skate park nearby and how they don't even bother with a school field trip to the Shakesepare festival in his hometown, because everyone goes during the summer, anyway. What makes a small town tick.
In the week prior to our visit alone, the only two bars in Harrisburg went out of business. "It says something when the bars shut down," Adrian said ominously. She read my tarot cards on one of the first nights of my visit, and Noah's cards one of the last. His reading was sandwiched between two feasts: Age's dinner was salmon cooked with dill, onions baked with cheese and butter, asparagus to a T, a salad I assembled and a dressing Noah obsessed over. Our breakfast was easy-bake biscuits that I worried would stick together, and Noah manning three burners like a navy captain. Cursing, the bacon too long for the pan, peppers-and-onions done long before the starchy potatoes softened, eggs with cheddar and tomatoes, everything done at roughly the same time . "It's like the rest of my life," Noah said of his tarot. "Either you'll crash and burn into absolute oblivion--or everything will go really well."