The Dust Bowl and the plight of The Joad’s consume mine and Lucy’s ruck from our home in Lakewood Village to Emily and Brandon’s apartment across town. Lucy is currently reading the classic Steinbeck novel, The Grapes of Wrath, which I read in 1995, and which has informed my consciousness ever since. To be discussing the book, some twenty-five years later, and the ecological and economic situations that it is centered around with Lucy seems appropriate in these times. History gives perspective. I mention a bible verse that reads, “there is nothing new under the sun,” to say there have always been and always will be hard times.
We discuss a Route 66 road trip for when this pandemic is over. Cliché perhaps, but a Fun Adventure none the less. The southwest, the Grand Canyon, the open road: these are ongoing themes in my psyche, and so the idea lights me up. I’ve been through that country many, many times before, and I look forward to seeing it again with Lucy. We make a deal; it will happen.
As we walk along, we find ourselves cutting through the historic neighborhood of California Heights, filled with beautiful homes and properties built and developed during the time of the Great Depression, where the fictional Joad’s were on the road seeking work and dignity. Somehow walking through this neighborhood, at this moment, gives us a deeper connection to the story; to the past, present, and future.
We arrive at Emily and Brandon’s apartment, and play with their cats, before putting our rucksacks back on, and traversing back across Long Beach. The last few miles of our twelve-mile trek are spent in relative silence as we “Embrace The Suck” that we feel in our shoulders and legs. But what seems difficult while you’re in the midst of it, quickly recedes to the past, especially when greeted by loving dogs who slobber all over you.