In her book, “Short Lived: A Road Trip,” former Newport Beach resident, author, poet, musician and painter Skie Bender takes us with her on a cross-country trek in an RV with her dog, Lucy.
She begins the journey in her now home state of Washington, and writes, “Lucy and I will criss-cross America. There is no goal. There is no destiny. There is only Being. Being Together. We will stop when it’s time to stop and go when it’s time to go. We will wind with the hills, climb with the mountains, grow with the trees and flow with the river.”
Her writing style is tight and descriptive. It reads like poetry and prose; the line between the two blurred. The reader embarks on journeys within the journey. A trip across country, an exploration of the relationship between human and dog, and a voyage into midlife introspection.
The book is divided into states. Bender masterfully captures the unique flavor – both figuratively and literally – of America. Her words, like a paintbrush, create pictures of color, emotion, and energy of our diverse country.
Louisiana: “Feeling sticky, my body is pulpy from the humidity. The heat and moisture combine to make a muddy milkshake out of the atmosphere. Just inhaling the air sticks in my lungs like petroleum jelly. The slightest movement drenches me with sweat that clings to my body like plastic wrap.”
Maine (Orchard Beach): “Lucy and I are on a carefree beach spree in the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Sunrays, blue streaked sky scattered cream puff powdered clouds paint our joyful summer jaunt.”
And later, “The sky shifts from silver to charcoal, the breeze halts and the bay turns glass black, which reflects our internal stillness. We silently stare into the deep black water while crunching on cobbed corn, crisp coleslaw, and succulently chewing luscious lobster tails that drip with butter. “
Skie’s mouthwatering descriptions of the local cuisine as well as vivid imagery of the landscape are among my favorite parts her experiences.
In New Mexico, Skie encounters a rattlesnake between her and the entrance to her RV as Lucy watches from the passenger seat, knowing because of Skie’s strange movements there is something wrong.
She gets a flat tire in St. Louis, is searched by border patrol in Arizona.
In Minnesota, Skie and Lucy celebrate the Fourth of July: “At camp we spend a quiet evening seated on top of our picnic bench eating peanut butter sandwiches, swatting at mosquitoes, and staring into a paltry fire as the classical radio station plays Frederic Chopin, one of my grandmother’s favorite composers. Then Boom-Boom-Boom we can see the Canal Park fire show in the distance.”
“Short Lived” is more than a memoir of a trip across country. It is an exploration of beauty, pain, joy and aloneness. It is simultaneous reflection and celebration of life.
To the proverbial question, “Why are we here?” Bender answers that nobody knows, and that is why she writes, paints and plays music. “The act of creation does not answer the question, but allows for a oneness with the mystery,“ she writes.
“Short Lived” is $8 and 100% of the proceeds go to Old Dog Haven, a nonprofit group that provides safe homes for abandoned senior dogs. To purchase the book, contact the author directly at [email protected].
Throughout the memoir, oil paintings of her dog Lucy are infused throughout the book. To view more of Skie Bender’s artwork go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIuFAJOyMvw