If you discover this series of articles, as a reminder, it is about my adventure as a mom who went to the USA, alone, to regain a little bit of inner peace after a busy year. A few months ago I decided to return to the places of my youth and to travel alone in the Great West. My primary motivation: to end the impossible mourning of one of my childhood friends who passed years ago… So I left for the USA with the certainty this trip without my husband nor my children could soothe the suffering associated with mourning and allow me to get a new spiritual start. I needed a kind of rebirth and believe me I was not wrong…
From the beginning of the trip I made a friend, older than I and very friendly named Jean-Marc. He works in therapy just like me. From the first meal we discussed spirituality and I explained why I had gone to the USA alone. The atmosphere was immediately friendly between us. He was also traveling alone, so I was able to take his pics and he took mine. In this kind of trip where you have to get up very early and to follow a lot of daily requirements having a friend is appreciable and also useful. Jean-Marc woke up earlier than me and I spoke a better English than him. We therefore drew mutual benefits from this new friendship.
The first step after Beverly Hills, the beautiful neighborhoods and a quick crossing of Los Angeles (which knew how to reveal both all its luxury and its poverty… No comment!), was the very famous Bagdad Café which was the location of the eponymous film shot there in the great 80’s.
The place could be a simple tourist stopover but the desert surroundings and the big sign indicating “Motel” immediately plunges you into the real Route 66, that of bikers, truckers and the 50s. A feast for the eyes and the heart . I immediatly fell in love with the place! I had seen the film when I was ten years old, with my parents. Good memories.
You now know my love for the aridity of deserts, their bare side. Crossing the desert is for me both a biblical theme (I have a degree in Catholic theology) and a personal process. I am someone who likes to work on herself. My mother studied psychoanalysis and my father is a self-made man who, from an early age, was deeply interested in Personal development (Dale Carnegie among others) and Psychology. I grew up in that kind of very culturally nurturing atmosphere.
I work my mental and my physical as well as my spirituality, permanently. But I am also imbued with the image of the “ideal mother”, this image that you impose on yourself and which can ultimately be very limiting.
Coming to Bagdad Café without my children nor my husband was a very strange event in my life. A real crossing of the desert where you face yourself and that no one can do for you!
Here, then, were the considerations in my mind arriving at Bagdad Café.
The place is beautiful. This old typical American building, dark red, surrounded by sand, with its huge sandy parking lot on which a vintage Airstream sits. Its infinitely blue skies that day, against which majestic white clouds stood out… Its Route 66 signs; its dilapidated but so welcoming entrance. I pray that the Bagdad Café does not change. So that it is never renovated but always left in its original condition. This place is simply magical!
Inside the vibrations are extraordinary. Each room is cluttered with travelers’ gifts like drawings, letters, CDs, and has its own soul. I am seduced by the naturalness of the boss. As I am also an author and composer member of the famous SACEM company, I offered her my latest album. Very moved, she hugged me.
I sit at the piano in the small back room and read all the messages of hope, joy and sorrow stuck to the walls.
I buy a beautiful fringed t-shirt with the “Bagdad Café” logo.
On the bench there is a tiny, slightly furry dog that everyone photographs and caresses. Blues music resonates in the place. Here I am bathed in my American dream. Little by little I feel all my self-confidence (lost during this complicated mourning) coming back. It was my dream to come here alone and walk Route 66 again and I did it! I worked more, I saved, I convinced my family that this trip would be beneficial to me and today I am there! I did it!
When the boss leaves with my album, my eyes are filled with tears. Her employee tells me about the descent into hell of the Covid which precipitated them into precariousness and the fear of never seeing travelers again. The desert is just beginning to recover from illness and to heal the wounds of a pandemic that has changed the way of living, working and healing. Everywhere the positions in the service are vacant! The Covid has made the USA an Eldorado for service jobs… People have lost their loved ones too and now prefer to enjoy life on low incomes than to offer their lives to capitalism. The change, the freedom dear to the USA resides here! This mutation has also affected desert regions.
I leave this unique place full of enthusiasm. I am gradually becoming again the person I was years ago, before the successive bereavements tarnished my very optimistic mind. I am regaining strength here in the desert and at Bagdad Café. A new wind is blowing in my hair today. We are now heading to Laughlin.
Do not miss the next episode of my road trip in the USA.