FISH AMERICA: Free Falling

Five months is a long time to spend in perpetual motion. And I've found that it's a gradual slide from a stationary life to one with no 'now,' just a yesterday and tomorrow.

And sometimes you think your skin's getting darker from the sun, and sometimes you think it's just changing to match the shade of the pavement that you're always on. As the inside of you chameleonizes to the constant motion, you think the outside might be too.

Everything changes, because everything's always changing. At the outset of the journey, I did much of my work in Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores. They're clean, well-lit, and have free Wi-Fi. But I've become more accustomed to working, with a wireless card and an inverter, in my jeep as of late. It turns out that outlets are harder to find in bookstores as you head south, and they are coveted real estate.

This past week I spent some time in a Borders again, putting together the galleries and videos that show up on the site each week, and I spent a better part of the afternoon.

And pieces of conversation permeate your concentration. A dinner being prepared, a test to study for, a gift to grab. And you look around and see invisible strings that connect people to the places they are going back to: Home for dinner, back to school for a test, back to an apartment to watch a DVR'd sitcom. They follow their string back to from whence it came, from where they tied it, or it tied them. Sometimes a cell phone rings and their string is yanked.

But you have no string. And there are moments where your situation clarifies, and stepping out of the bookstore was like stepping off a ledge into that parking lot, back into a controlled fall toward the next thing, and the next lake, the next fish, the next day on the water, the next night on the road under the stars, the next sun struggling out of the ocean again, and splashing back in, in slow motion.

There is only and always, music, motion, beauty and the pursuit of fish.

You're skunked or you're stoked, sunburnt or soaked, and there is only tired and very tired. On the road you only dream of real things, falling asleep at the wheel, oversleeping a tide. Reality must penetrate sleeping hours the same way exhaustion does the waking ones. And you are never still.

And you feel yourself forgetting what it's like.