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On the Road Again

This Week in the Narrative 100

Nigel Clarke

I am out visiting the pacific northwest. Yes, it has rained every day I’ve been here, and yes, the air kind of smells like coffee and weed.

But aside from that, I’ve noticed another curious phenomenon; that is, it appears every third or fourth vehicle out here is a camper van with stickers all over the back.

This isn’t a bit. I’m currently sitting in the park writing this and I can see no less than four of them. I don’t know that I’ve seen four camper vans with stickers all over the back in my entire life where I’m from.

After a few days here, I started having the same recurring thought, which, if we’re being honest with ourselves, I think all of us have had at one time or another:

I’d sure like to have a camper van.

A few days ago, I articulated this thought to a man walking his dog through the very park in which I now sit – as in, “man, you guys have a lot of campers out here; I think I’d like to buy one.” Don’t worry, I‘d spoken with him before as he walked his dog, I didn’t just spring it on him out of the blue like a guy emerging from a dark alleyway with a trench coat full of watches.

His response: “I don’t understand people who have those things.”

I think this might be my least favorite cultural euphemism – “I don’t understand”

It has emerged as sort of a throwaway precursor and, more importantly, an invalidator, a trump card.

The implication is that whatever follows the “I don’t understand” is so ridiculous that it cannot possibly be understood, that there is no possible reason someone could do or think that thing.

It is an odd thing to preface an opinion you are about to give with “I don’t understand…”

If you don’t understand what you’re about to talk about, why should I take your opinion into account then? Look into it, then get back to me, no?

There are many things I don’t understand. Not as in, “therefore the things are wrong or invalid,” more like I literally am lacking an adequate understanding. You might call them “things I would like to understand.”

Like, for example, I don’t understand a person supporting Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court Justice. I don’t understand how to get past the sexual assaults allegations, the perjury, the fact that even his own “drinking buddies” don’t support him for the position.

It’s a bit like how I didn’t understand support for Roy Moore back during his run for Senate, or why President Trump is “so much more popular with Republicans than past [Republican] Presidents.”

I know for a fact there are reasons for these things, whether I agree with the reasons or not. I just can’t get my head around them.

I guess you might just say that I don’t fully understand Trump’s base.

Therefore, I am going to go and find out.

I bought a camper van.

It only has one sticker on the back (so far). But it does have a bed and a desk, windows that open and a radio that works.

Next week, I will leave the pacific northwest to cut a path diagonally through the center of the country to the south, Dixieland, Trump country, the last area of the continent I have not explored through back roads and small diners.

I intend to see the President speak in front of his people. More importantly, I intend to speak with his people.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the week:

Written by Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.

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On the Road Again