Pacheco Pass

There’s a stretch of One-Fifty-Two out east of Gilroy where the trees bend over backwards and splay their arms out and up to the sky. They’re close in a row by the road and the power lines. They must have begun blithely upright, but now that they’ve grown someone has to come along and cut them away from the lines. Oak trees are sacred in California (there’s a fine for cutting them down) so whoever-it-is only cuts out the middles of their branches and leaves the rest to spread out on either side of the wires. Only when you drive down that road do they line up so that you notice the way the wire cuts a path right through their heads.

When you’re on the back of a motorcycle, though, and turn your head to look at them from the side, they look just fine. Your driver’s helmet blocks the front view, so you turn your head and look at the trees and fences and barns. You hold on to his hips and turn your head to the side and figure out which plots of land you like best and why. When you see a particularly rusty old car or a particularly large old barn that might make a nice garage, you point and he looks to the side too and nods and smiles. On the back of the bike, Los Angeles is a shiny plastic snow-globe in the back of your mind.

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