Monday, December 1, 2014

Stepping twice

You cannot step twice into the same river.  —Heraclitus

While Slab City isn't a river, it is different from the last time I was here. The pavement is lumpier than I remember. Messes have been cleaned up in one spot while garbage piles up somewhere else. There's new art at East Jesus and a new crew maintains Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain. But mostly it's the seasonal migration of residents and visitors. It changes the tone of things.

Snowbird season was winding down when I arrived at the end of February, and pretty much over when I left a month later. The triple-digit heat was on its way. It was no problem finding a place to set up camp then.

But now it's the beginning of high season. I had to cruise around a while searching for a spot. My neighbors are closer than I was used to before. They probably aren't too pleased to see me occupy one of the remaining patches of open ground. It will get worse. Someone might show up and want to chase me from "their spot."

The economic and generational divide is also more obvious than before. The haves and have-nots. Those on a lark, those in desperation. The retirees and the young adults—some with kids. I'm more conscious of what parts of "town" I don't really fit into. So I ended up in sort of a voluntary segregation. I don't mind poor people. I mind people throwing trash all over the place. Sadly, the two go hand-in-hand rather often. I'm in a middle class area. True to my roots, I guess. In a vagabond way.

How long I stay this time will be influenced, in part, by how crowded it gets. I'll flee if it becomes like an RV park. Sorry, there's too much room in this country to be crammed together like that—even if it is rent-free.

1 comment:

  1. What's more, it's not just the river that changes. We change. Our experiences change our perceptions. The Slabs aren't the same and I'm not the same. If absolutely nothing had changed here since March, I would still see the place differently.