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All the King's Men: My books:

A Thoughts from Places video in which John discusses what it means to drive north instead of west, going home, growing up, being a father, and that kind of thing. Also, since this is youtube: A baby drives a car.

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A Bunny
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Good morning, Hank, it's Wednesday. I woke up in the Yeti's childhood bedroom around seven, brushed my teeth while contemplating how disconcertingly often I videotape myself brushing my teeth, and went downstairs to find Henry helpfully removing trash from a trash can. Willy was like, "I wanna try!" We had to drive from Birmingham back to Indianapolis that day, so first I put this stuff in this bag, then I changed clothes - suspiciously similar pants are suspiciously similar - and then I started packing the car. Hank, there was a time when, in a pinch, I could fit my whole life into a small Sedan. Now I have to strap a car-top carrier onto my station wagon if I want to go on a five day trip. Remembering the unbearable lightness of my younger and more vulnerable years made me think about all the road trips I'd gone on in the past. I'd driven to the Grand Canyon, and Alaska, and San Francisco, and Arthur, Nebraska, home of the world's smallest courthouse. In those days, I'd get distracted by all kinds of roadside attractions, but this trip was all about speed. I ate leftover barbecue for breakfast - we didn't stop until lunch. Willy says, "I claim this snow for Fireball Wilson Roberts!" Henry says, "Tables are for climbing!" I'd been feeling nostalgic, but then I thought about how on those old road trips I couldn't order Happy Meals or play in the play place, which I can finally do again after more than two decades. Back in the car, Willy slept, and I read Sarah an excerpt from a Germany review of one of my books, as translated by Google. (John: The bone-mo density is high in these bisections, easily gestessing gapit - ) As we kept driving north, I thought about how all my old road trips had taken me west, partly because that's where the open space is in America and partly because of this amazing line from a book I loved, called "All The King's Men." "For west is where we all plan to go someday," Robert Penn Warren wrote. "It is where you go when the land gives out and the old field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying 'flee, all is discovered.' It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire." A bubble on the tide of empire, Hank, french the llama, what I wouldn't give to write sentences like that! Anyway - then we had to stop for gas and we decided to let Henry drive for a while. It must be said that despite Henry's abundant charms, he is not terribly attentive behind the wheel. We kept driving. I was still thinking about the old road trips and this new one, about becoming a capital "A" adult with capital "R" responsibilities. I remember when we got to the world's small courthouse in Arthur, Nebraska, all those years ago after twelve hours of driving, I was struck by the fact that it was not, like, actually /that/ small. I mean, frankly, if I were so inclined I could easily build a much smaller courthouse in my basement. As we got back in the car to drive to Carhenge, an exact replica of Stonehenge made out of junked cars, I complained to a fellow traveler, who reminded me that it was not the destination that mattered, but the journey. Which is true, in its way, but destinations aren't all bad, Hank. And as we kept driving north, the whole family in the car together, it got darker, and snowier, until finally the road delivered us to the one place that all my youthful trips west never could: home. Hank, I'll see ya on Friday!