August 5th, 2010 - Aaron Burch
I’m thirty-two years old, on summer break. This time next year, I’ll have my MFA and will be driving up the California coast on my honeymoon, but right now I’m in Sacramento, having just driven up the California coast on a reading tour. Lindsay flew home a couple of days ago, after San Diego and Los Angeles and the first of two back-to-back reading dates in San Francisco, and we’ve been reading with various friends in every city, but now it’s just me and Amelia. Tonight—August 5, 2010—will be a disaster. A reading at a café that got triple-booked alongside trivia night and some kind of networking event. I’ll think absolutely no one is there for us, but over the years I’ll hear from a couple of people who were actually there, and I’ll love them for it, but tonight, as it is all happening, or not-happening, it will seem ridiculous and frustrating and pointless to even try and read and so, something of a brat, I won’t. Amelia, however, will get up on a chair, or maybe a table, or maybe she stays on the ground but I’ll remember her as elevated, in the air and in command, and she’ll yell her story at everyone, a reading that will feel the exact right amount of ridiculous and frustrated and pointless. After, we’ll go out for drinks with the handful of people who organized the event, but by then, we’re over it. We hate Sacramento and our sleeping situation for the night seems sketchy at best and so sometime after midnight we make a spur of the moment decision to get out of Dodge—we pay our tab and we get in the car we rented for the tour and drive two hours to Reno, where we sleep at a friend of a friend’s who has a Murphy bed, the only one I’ve ever seen in real life. Tomorrow I’ll g rafting Down the Truckee River with my friend, Gabe, and that night we’ll go out gambling and Gabe will teach us how to play craps and after that, Amelia and I will hit the road again, the final leg of our drive, all the way back down to Tucson, where we’ll stay with her parents and then do an event with Spork that, like all things Spork, is pretty impossible to try and describe.
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There’s a story I’ve written about a handful of times, and have told countless more. I grew up in youth group and on one weekend retreat, shortly after we arrived at the cabin and were being given a tour, about to be shown the kitchen and its giant dishwashers, where helping with dishes would be one of our weekend chores, one of my buddies looked at a couple of us and said, “I bet they have a Hobart.” That always stuck with me. It’s been twenty-five years, at least, and I still remember that moment like it’s a scene from a movie I’ve rewatched countless times over the years. Which, in a sense, it kind of is. That name, Hobart, stuck with me; I always thought it might be a good band name. It’s a single word, it sounds mysterious but also familiar, while not being sure why. When I started a lit journal shortly after undergrad, I gave it that name, thinking starting a lit journal was probably the closest I’d ever be to being in a van. This California (and Tucson) tour is the third I’ve done with Amelia and Lindsay in a little over a year, after having so much fun on our first and so planning another, and then another, and it feels a little like that dream of being in a band. Touring the country in vans and rented cars, having amazing events, suffering through horrible ones, going to bars and cafes and casinos, the long hours of drives in between, crashing on the floor and couches and Murphy beds of friends and friends of friends and parents… it’s all a little ridiculous and sometimes frustrating or seemingly pointless but other times some of the most fun ever and it’s exhausting and amazing and chaotic. It’s perfect.
Aaron Burch is the author of the memoir/literary analysis Stephen King’s The Body; the short story collection, Backswing; and the novella, How to Predict the Weather. He is the Founding Editor of HOBART.