The Open Road in anticlimatic

  • Sept. 28, 2022, 9 p.m.
  • |
  • Public

Enjoyed a little walk through the neighborhood at the very tail end of dusk. There is something about the light at that moment, specifically the horizon- when there is the faintest sliver of orange mostly out of sight, and the rest is that pale to deep gradient blue- with only a few stars on the eastward side. It triggers a memory, I think, from being on one of my first vacations as a kid. Mostly it triggers a feeling, likely originating in that memory, of a certain type of wonder of all things under the sun.

All the memories I have from the road on childhood vacations have a dreamy, nightmare quality to me. I think the overwhelming “newness” of things was mild and pleasantly scarring. I remember a barn in Ohio, walking around in it with my mother. Some kind of giftshop maybe. The barn was high up on a grassy hill, off a long bumpy dirt road. The colors were very stark. Bright dusk light, again. The smell of the inside of the white station wagon. Somewhat acrid. I remember somewhere in Kentucky I think, a strip mall at night. Outdoors, early 80s era. We went into a Banana Republic for some emergency article of clothing. A sweater I think. I remember rest stops in Georgia, wide open plains of grass. The tiny square lights in aging Cincinnati factories just after dark.

I traveled a lot as a young adult, but never found any of those places, at least in spirit. I loved it, but I was usually alone, and the road is dreadfully lonesome. Especially in the more beautiful corners of the country. Especially after that hotel room door closes and you lay down listening to the traffic out the window. I used to stop in this tiny little town in Tennessee all the time and stay the night. Same hotel. In my 20s it had a warmth to it, even with the misty Appalachian mountains looming over its backside. Went back in my 30s with my brother, and it was like the soul of it had been drained in the years I had stayed away. The hotel was still there, but it was faded. Suddenly dated, cold, and unwelcoming.

The road is an important place to be, I think. It’s a good reminder of where we truly abide in life. It’s good to stay moving, and catch those precious places in time and space while they’re there. Might yet be some magic in this world after all.

Last updated September 28, 2022

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