Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

The Stars and Stripes Freeway

Yesterday was a landmark moment in my life. I stood before Old Glory and took the Oath of Allegiance. I am now an American citizenship.  This is a culmination of an arduous process full of bureaucracy more than anything spectacular. But what began as essentially a pragmatic step transformed into a meaningful process.

There is a lot wrong with the United States of America. The team here at Left Coast Voices has highlighted so much that needs to change if we are to truly reflect the vision and values of this country. But there is something incredibly inspiring about this country. Maybe you need to be an outsider to see it.  

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Leaving the citizenship ceremony, I was overwhelmed with the desire to do something…American. We settled for hamburger and fries – the burger, of course, wild salmon or Zen-practicing fowl (I am still from Berkeley), and the fries would be chips and eaten with a fork (the rumors that the Queen defriended me on Facebook are false). 

What I wanted to do was jump on my Harley, blast Bob Seeger or Bruce Springsteen and hit the open road. Now, notwithstanding that I do not own a motorbike, wouldn’t know how to listen to music while on one, and that my family and gecko would be distinctly uncomfortable hanging on as I negotiate the curves of the beautiful Highway 1, I was totally ready.

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I guess a Mustang would do the job too provided it had a sun roof to throw back.

But there is something about the Open Road. I was born on an island where in a few hours in any direction and you would reach the ocean. I spent half my life in an even smaller country whose borders were never open for me to safely cross.

I have read Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, each several times. I feel a surge of adrenaline whenever we leave the Bay Area heading north for a vacation or south to my good lady’s family. I used to spend hours planning the right music and where to stop. I once went three hours out of my way, detouring as an adventure (this was before gas reached $4 a gallon), hoping to see…what?

I fantasize that when retired, Mrs. Blogs and I will RV across this beautiful country. I have a friend doing just that and I love reading his stories.

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I have included many scenes from these road trips in Unwanted Heroes and its unpublished sequel. As I made the transition into fantasy, the landscape, trees and even stone hamlets found their way into my world building. I wrote earlier that you can find fantasy everywhere and the open road is such rich fodder for authors.

But for now I want to avoid Odessiya and other mythical realms. I am in America and the magic of the open road is a connection to share with my fellow Americans. If you don’t believe me, check out Lana Del Rey’s amazing video: Ride. 

And for those of you who are worried, I have not abandoned my roots in a purge of patriotism. Come June 12, my half century celebration, I will still don my England soccer shirt and cheer the Three Lions. Some habits run too deep.

 But after they crash out of the World Cup, I can console myself and hit the open road with my friends and fellow countrymen and women:  Bob, Bruce and Lana.

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, The First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out withAlon on Google+

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12 thoughts on “The Stars and Stripes Freeway

  1. Alon, Don’t wait until you cross the 70-yard-line of your life as I did to give yourself the gift of a couple of years of RV nomadism. After three-and-a-half years on the road and birthdays that have 7s in them, the physical effort will soon begin to limit how much vagabonding I can do. Best regards, AL

    *AL * *Ride with me and Lightnin’ **on our Year on the Road at **http://allevenson.wordpress.com or the new blog at* *http:allevenson2.wordpress.com *

    *Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.

  2. Reblogged this on ElvesWriter and commented:
    Not quite on topic, but part of my journey I’d like to share. Have a great weekend, everyone.

  3. Congratulations! This morning I early voted here in Texas (high hopes for change here) and when I was finishing up, a young woman came in and told the voter registration lady she had recently become an American citizen and for the first time in her life, would be voting. A burst of applause happened, yes it did. I left voting with a big smile, because of how excited she was to vote. Pretty cool.

    • That’s very cool, Carolyn. After the ceremony, I registered to vote and ticked the box to vote by mail. The woman who took my form and checked it for me suggested I go at least once to the voting ceremony. It’s a rite-of-passage she said, and I was so struck with how proud she was of our democracy that I promised her I would.

      Thanks for your comment.
      Alon

      http://www.alonshalev.com

  4. lisafender on said:

    Congratulations Alon and welcome – officially! Yes, America has serious issues right now but usually we get through them. It’s still a great place to be a citizen of. I’ve always wanted to go to Britain and see it and someday I will, but for now I live in a beautiful state and appreciate all that comes with being a part of this great dream! ;-)

  5. Congratulations! May you have a long and happy citizenship!

    Curiously enough, it’s always been a dream of mine to head to Great Britain and take a long walking tour. I find it fascinating to think of places where there’s a town every couple of miles. I suppose I could do it where I live now, but I keep finding excuses (like work and kids). Maybe in a few years . . . .

    The RVing sounds absolutely spacious and mind-broadening. I hope you get a chance to try it out.

  6. Congratulation Alon!! Your right about the fact that we have some issues, but with hope and hard work we’ll get them sorted out. Permanent change for the good always takes time. BTW I loved At The Walls of Galbrieth, and can’t wait till I have the time to read the others.

  7. joanna bressler on said:

    all well and good, and congratulations, but don’t lose the accent! love from hawaii, joanna

  8. Alon, congratulations once again for doing something that you believe so strongly in. I, for one, think this country will be richer for having you as a part of its fabric. I don’t have the same pride. as I wrote about here: http://www.neuroticy.com/2013/07/i-am-american-girl.html – but it doesn’t mean I’ve given up the hope that people will still strive for change.

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