“I don’t want to work” is the English translation of “Je ne veux pas travailler,” the chorus for Sympathique, the song that seeded our playlist today.
For the entire day, chanteuses serenaded us in the French that originally dominated much the area we drove through, a vast swath stretching from Louisiana up past Montana, originally acquired from France in Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase.
And “I don’t want to work” echoed the sentiment Rachel and I are both reveling in, as we begin this (at least) three-year sabbatical from the working life. As much as anything, we want to discover who we are and what we reveal when we’re not constrained by workaday restrictions.
We want to see who we are when we create a future by design, instead of living one of inertia, when we sidestep the expected and force a discontinuity—an unexpected future combining intent and happenstance.
A fire-breathing dragon.
On a Vandalia Illinois roadside stands the Kaskaskia Dragon, a 35-foot metallic emblem of Americana. For a one-dollar token it spits flame, even in harsh winds and threatening rain.
When I deposited two such token in a row and watched the dragon spew its flames into the impending storm, Rachel described my demeanor as “boyish glee.” (See picture.) She was right. That was exactly what I felt and what I want us both to never stop feeling.
That idiosyncratic dragon was someone’s quirk of ambition married to an unreasonable need to create something perpendicular to the ordinary.
That’s what we’re trying to create and what we think life should be: designed discontinuities—things that wouldn’t have “just happened anyway.”
Like a fire-breathing dragon in an Illinois rainstorm.
We arrived in Indianapolis after a merciless downpour drenched the city. Yet in the time it took us to check in to our room and unlock our bikes the summer streets were steam-dried and downtown beckoned. We biked both the Riverwalk and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, through collegiate and sports and historical landmarks. But oh my was it humid. Cycling through that invisible fog, we got our exercise and showers at the same time.
And … since it was 2019 in a major metropolitan city, scooters were everywhere—ten per block, half in use. On our trusty mountain bikes we skirted around and through the dashing hive, like queen bees among drones.
People don’t come to Indianapolis for the food.
Forty-five years ago, at an obscure bar in Buffalo, New York, bartender Dominic Bellissimo asked his mother, Teressa, to prepare something for his ravenous friends who showed up just before closing. From the humble scraps left in the kitchen, she came up with what is now the pinnacle of all things edible, the American icon that is the Buffalo wing. This has been, for thirty years, my favorite food.
And tomorrow, on our sixth anniversary, on America’s 243rd birthday, Rachel and I will have dinner at that mecca, at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.
This boy is inappropriately giddy in anticipation.