TOUR Day 5 - Phoenix and The Universe
Now I’m sitting in the front seat of the van while Rob drives. I usually don’t like to sit in the front seat, because I feel so constantly positive that cars are going to crash, and I tend to reach across the front seat to honk for the driver, or save them from the window crashing into their bodies. So really what I mean is, it’s super-unsafe for me to sit in the front seat of a vehicle. But the guys on this tour don’t care. They’re living dangerously. What would comedy be without dangerous living?
Rob has been playing comedy albums and podcasts while he drives — now we’re listening to a Nerdist interview between Pete Holmes Deepak Chopra. Within the first five minutes, Deepak said, “If you’re not constantly surprised by your existence, you don’t deserve to exist.”
We have been driving through piles of rocks that cascade into mountains. In the distance, the mountains look purple. Not crayon box purple; not even eggplant purple; just, purple.There are also piles of the things you’d expect: Denny’s, K-Mart, Cracker Barrel, Carl’s Junior. (I’m literally just listing the things I see out the window right now.) Some of the big tan buildings feel like they are blocking the wonder. There are billboards up and down this highway about God: “HAVE YOU FOUND HIM YET;” “BE SAVED WHILE YOU CAN;” “JESUS WILL FREE YOU,” etcetera. Billboards for God love all capital letters. They’re made for all those people who are driving along, just searching for meaning, and start to think, “Well, those billboards with small, lowercase letters are too much work for me right now. If only there was a billboard where all the letters were gigantic. I would follow that billboard into the afterlife.”
The God billboards are interesting because they’re blocking out the God all around — you know, the boundless universe version of God. Like, for example, watching impossible Dr. Seuss cacti pop up with gnarly fingers and crazy-blood-hued flowers in the depths of the red-sand deserts. You look at that stuff, and consider it for a moment, and realize that it’s totally magical. Life is just miracles all the time. Why do the God people need the billboards?
I’m still so tired. We stayed in a wonderful hotel last night in Phoenix with a lot of history. (In truth, it’s a pet peeve of mine when people say that places have “a lot of history.” Isn’t it factually accurate to say that all places have the exact same amount of history? As they have all existed in one way or another since the beginning of time?) In the lobby, there was a plaque that said that the first schoolhouse in Phoenix was built on the hotel’s site in 1848. On our floor, there were lots of framed articles about this actress who killed herself in the ’20s by jumping off the top floor of the hotel. Apparently, the hotel is haunted. People have had lots of ghost sightings. I noticed nothing strange about the hotel except that the elevators were just slow enough for it to be awkward if you were in there with another person. But I loved how empty the hotel was, and how old all the furniture seemed. I liked that the carpets were faded and that the floors creaked. I am not sure what’s so alluring about the idea of something once-glamorous being left behind. Maybe it's being able to see how things change. Long ago, this hotel might have been full of people, very concerned about the meetings they were going to go to tomorrow or whether someone was saying something bad behind their back. These small things seem so big when they’re right next to us; from far away, we can see how small they really are.
Moving quickly and doing lots of stand-up and meeting lots of people and then leaving, night after night, I’ve felt this amazing opportunity to zoom out for a moment. Last night, there was this woman who hung around after the show. She had had a lot to drink, and she also thought the show was really cool. It was nice to hear that, but I was so tired, and we had another show right after, so I wasn’t really giving her a lot of my attention, even though she seemed to desperately want it. She kept saying, “But you don’t understand! It’s 602’sdays! The Bikini Lounge has THREE. DOLLAR. PITCHERS. ToNIGHT.” Then she’d pause and go, “Get it? Six-oh-Tuuuuuesdays? Because our area code here in Phoenix is 602. HA! Even I have a 602 area code. I mean, everyone does. And it’s Tuesday. See?” When I finally stopped to listen, I noticed how flawless and meticulous her makeup was; she was wearing a strapless bra, which required some pre-show attention to detail. And I thought, “Oh yeah; this is really important to her right now. She’s a social person; Tuesdays matter to her; she wants to sell her city — her life — to me.”
Which is how I feel most of the time, just in variation. My job is very important to me. My friends are very important to me. The people who don’t like me very much are perhaps the MOST important to me, and I obsess over them, trying to justify all the reasons they are wrong, or trying to explain to myself what they must be misinterpreting about me. My tragedies feel profoundly large; my accomplishments feel world-stopping. I have my own 602’sdays, and I want everyone to consider them as important as I consider them.
Moving through cities, I get a chance to see how complicated and intricate and multifaceted and simultaneously, paradoxically tiny all our lives are.
And still the spiny cacti. And the red sands. And just 20 minutes ago, we passed by acres of sand dunes that were as white as fingernails, while the boxy trucks sat alongside, refueling, to keep going.