I had a few extra days before I had to be in San Francisco for the premiere of my new work for Smuin Ballet, so I decided to make it a road trip from Austin to SF. My poor little dog has been suffering too much home alone with two working dad’s, so the trip was a good reason for some father/son bonding. Also, a reset of the brain was in order and the time for thinking as the giant American skies blazed by was the right thing. The perspective of connecting one place to another by stacking rock upon rock without fast-forwarding by airplane was like healing dormant synapses and a reminder that time is relative.
I haven’t had a pet since I was 20. They are so much fucking trouble. Attention, shitting, eating. It never ends. My life is too selfish for that. When Bryce and I decided last year to get a dog, it was a shift into permanence and putting down roots. Cobra is a tiny dog and a gigantic force. He is suave, alpha, a hunter, impetuous, manipulative, love-starved and, I found out with this trip, a fierce protector. I spent my first night at an RV Park just outside of El Paso and had a shit feeling from the moment I pulled in. I thought immediately about my friend who fought off a serial killer when he was attempting to sleep in his car at the beach. This place was like a hotel in a David Lynch film. It was too quiet and dark and sinister. I made a pretty comfortable bed for a giant in the back seat, but without enough room to unfold into a quick getaway should the bad guys come for me. I invited Cobra to stay warm in the comforter with me, but he instead perched at the highest point on an armrest and stayed watchdog all night. He gave me a gentle bark whenever there was something he wanted me to check out. Then, in the am, when it was time to hit the road, he went to bed.
At a Texas rest stop, his romance with a dog named Lil’ Bit, forces me into a conversation with a woman in a sleeveless cammo t-shirt. Lil’ Bit is the #1 dog name of this trip.
I stopped in Phoenix along the way to visit 3 Cuban dancers I worked with in Malpaso Dance Company. They are trapped there as a part of the immigration process in becoming Americans. Heartbreaking to see part of the short lives of dancers be taken by bureaucracy. This is a testament to the necessity of immigration for some people and how committed they are to being a part of this country when it wasn’t something handed to them.
Visiting friends on a road trip is perfect. This is how I experience friendship. I am rarely in the same place for very long, so relationships are not on the patterns and reliances you have with your neighbors. You trust and love one another enough to pick up where you left off the next time you see each other. The language of this love is all about presence when there’s the opportunity for presence.
We got up early in the morning and took some photos in the mountains around the city. It was truly a bonus to also get to make some art with these collaborators with whom creation was the foundation of our relationship.
Cobra and I spent a night at the top of the San Gabriels in a hippie artist compound. It began with a harrowing, winding road up and crossing the inspiration for the collapsing bridge at Universal Studios. This place was so special and beautiful and renewing. Cobra was in heaven and made friends with a donkey. I saw a spiral staircase outside of my cottage that led to the roof. I tried to get Cobra to go up with me, but he didn’t want to go. This was weird because he follows me everywhere. I finally had to go pick him up and carry him and when I got to the top, I realized it didn’t connect to anything. Just a staircase to the sky. How did Cobra know?
Spent the next day with my very dear friend Tina Berkett, the founder of the legendary BodyTraffic. She and I worked on a project for Disney together and there was enough two fingers back and forth between our eyes to know that we would stay friends. We spend the afternoon catching up like we just saw each other, and then it’s back on the road.
Cobra and I make it 1/2 way to San Francisco and I crash at a rest stop while he does his bad-ass thing. He is settling more emphatically into his role as the protector and listens less to my admonishments for barking. I’ll be glad for this if there ever really is a bad-guy. And he’s also softening on so many other things and listening to me more. There’s a lot of two fingers back and forth between our eyes and his dive into the real world. This is more stimulation than he’s ever had and it makes him want to stand on the hood of the car while we drive and lead.