I Took A Road Trip

Zine from the CancerGram 3 of 18, covering events of late 2015 and the road trip in the spring of 2016..

The Toledo job had ended and I didn’t yet have another. It was decided that I would move out to Arizona to live with my brother, who had a big house. My mother had helped him buy it a few years earlier thinking that she might retire there at some point. In the meantime, my brother lived in the house by himself. He said he’d love the company. I shipped my stuff and took the road trip.

By the time I had left Toledo in the fall of 2015, I was on my third prostate medication and my symptoms were worsening. I had lost some confidence in the doctor, but I had also lost my work insurance. I was on an Obamacare plan, but I was afraid to use it.

My first trip out to Phoenix went smoothly. I even started seeing someone, which made my leaking problems more of an issue. For the first time in my life, I was a prude who didn’t really pursue sexual contact. I tried to be honest with her about what I was experiencing, but I didn’t understand what was happening and it was too embarrassing.

By the time I was interviewing for the job in Memphis in early 2016, I had stopped taking all of the prostate medication in the hope that my body would go back to normal. I still thought that my lack of sex function was a side effect of the medication. The anal leakage subsided, but I still had the other problems. I was thinking of the prostate itself as the nexus of masculinity — this minor bit of flesh through which so many masculine functions were expressed.

Driving back to PHX from Memphis, I stopped in Texas to visit with friends before embarking on the long desert drive of West Texas and southern New Mexico. I remember drinking some sweet tea on part of the West Texas drive. I stayed the night in a roadside motel, then drove up through remote southeastern New Mexico the following day. Odessa, Texas for the meteor, then Pecos, Carlsbad, Roswell. I kept thinking I would stop for a proper meal, but nothing caught my eye. I was feeling kind of weird by Socorro, so I pulled off at a small grocery store and bought some supplies.

Driving up to Magdalena was lovely. I started to see the landscape features that I find so attractive as a midwestern boy — the yellow grasses, rocky outcroppings and deep green bushes of the high altitude American West. I had remembered being shocked by this palette on my first road trip west, back in 2005. Here it was again, waiting for me. I started to fantasize about living out there, on this remote strip of elevated plains. I wondered if they had good internet.

By the time I got to the Very Large Array, I was disappointed that I hadn’t gotten there earlier. The sun was going down and I didn’t have time to take a tour. When I got back in the car to head west, I started to feel the pain.