Jesse Maskell
Kansas on the I-70, June 2015

Flat farms roll out forever. Dreams being lived at the minute. Robbie is up front napping. Our ride Louie, a smooth old Argentine from Wyoming, powers on. He’s Florida-bound to see his girlfriend who he’s flying up from South America. He needs to drive through the night to make it in time. I sit stewing over frustrated half-ideas for film glories.

Two summers ago I dallied in Bakers Delight shifts after finishing a film degree. On Triple J everywhere infectious Lorde anti-anthems dropped one by one. I liked her a little until Team caught me, then I was a fan. My creative dreams were as murky as they still are. I whittled away that summer working sparingly and lazing on a hammock in the backyard, not a glint of next travel in my eye, no American Road Trip. I threw every dollar at whatever gig or festival was next.

Lorde drew thousands alongside the Maribyrnong River at Laneway. Max and I watched from a hundred and fifty metres back. She was at ease. We left to see another act. Finally she played Team, it tugged at me as we loped back through scatterings in purple and orange dusk.

Unscripted sprawling trip now half behind me and half of it in front too. Girls are gone with intoxicating scars in me that I wonder should be deeper. Lorde curls sentimental melodies for forlorn city kids everywhere. I’m high on the sight-binge of famous boring Kansas. Wooden, collapsing shells of abandoned barns dwarfed by silo upgrades. Cosy long off farmhouses hugged by kingdom-creating trees. This is before all the eerie, crow-like oil rigs and oil rig graveyards of eastern and southern Kansas. Land and land and land.

We roar on at 75 miles an hour. Ahead, the road melts into baby blue sky. Louie puffs his fourth American Spirit since Denver, his window wide open the whole drive, hot wind. Robbie and I shared one earlier, “Organic Tobacco, 100% Additive Free”. Finally I take out a book and write after a lifetime’s worth of encouragement this week alone from friends in America, in Europe. Lorde subsides for Kansas local ads and Robbie wakes, the drive continues.

© Jesse Maskell.