May 23 2005
I want to take a road trip, so badly that it makes my body hurt. So. Bad. I have not wanted to just pick up & take off in a car that much for a long, long time.
Tonight, I needed some time to think. My Flexcar card had just come in the mail — I’ve been a member for a couple of years (so long that I’m grandfathered in under the old rate system where there was no annual fee), but hadn’t ever used it much, as S. always had a car I could borrow, and then I lost my keycard which you need to get into the vehicles and so then I didn’t use it at all. But Justin’s been using them & that kind of reacquainted me with the whole system, and besides I realized the other week that it would be exceedingly helpful to have a vehicle at my disposal. At any rate, I called them up and got my membership back on track and got a new keycard in the mail. It’s $7.50 or so an hour (since I’m a student; it’s $9 normally); either way, not bad considering they pay for gas and insurance and parking and whatnot, and parking alone can easily be $50 a month in this neighborhood.
And I needed to think, and so on a whim tonight I reserved a vehicle (the one conveniently some two blocks away) for ten minutes from when I reserved it ’til midnight and walked down and started her up and drove to Everett and back.
I was worried, I think, that I might have forgotten how to drive, or something, which is silly because it’s not really something you forget. But I am sitting here trying to remember the last time I drove anything at all — and I can’t, actually. It’s been at least a year, maybe longer, since I have even started a car. How bizarre is that? I’ve certainly gone places with other people, all the time, but it’s been going places with other people. I think the last time I drove might have been with and going to Wenatchee last summer.
So anyway, I was perhaps justifiably worried that I would be shaky, but I’m not. Not at all. If anything, I have turned, bizarrely, into a better driver than I was before. I drove through the city for a few minutes, decided, fuck it, merged onto the freeway and drove and drove and drove.
And damn, I miss it. I miss all of it. I miss being able to sort things out in my head in between lane changes. I miss drowning everything out with the radio. I miss seeing the skyline bathed in moonlight go whizzing past, the way your field of view contracts on the highway at night into lines of reflectors and oncoming headlights.
I want to go to Arizona and see the mesas; I want to go to Oklahoma and see sky so big it seems to be larger than the whole world. I want to go to Colorado and smell the pinon pines in air so sharp and clear it makes you cry. I want to go to the midwest, to Kansas and Iowa, where the moon on a summer night swallows you up, illuminates you. I want to drive around Ohio, the great lakes, where hills roll and sway and insects buzz and it is chilly in the evenings. I want to see the Badlands again. I want to drive to California and down the PCH and revisit the beach towns I knew once and the ones I did not know, and then drive back up on LA freeways like a madwoman at 90 miles an hour. I want to do the same thing on the east coast, take 95 all the way down from New York city, through Philly, Baltimore, DC, through Richmond all the way out to the keys and the barrel at the end at the end of the road, where we will have margaritas and gulf shrimp and toast to our own success and peer out at Cuba. I want to show my baby what a proper roadtrip is like; he’s never been on one, and I’ll do all the driving if he keeps me entertained. I have friends spread out from one coast to another, and I want to see them all. I want to burn oil like there is no tommorow and burn up road like there is no today and float in and out of gas stations like a new age migratory iron butterfly, strange creature of the night.
This is what an hour of driving does to me; it makes me restless, anxious. What have I been doing in one place for so long? I remember I used to get like this when I had a car, as well; my circle of routine, of the things I saw every day, was simply expanded then.
I was trying to explain to Justin what driving across the country is like. You can see the landscape changing, I said, but it’s not just that: you can taste foods change, hear accents shift. The texture of the freeway changes, and towns look different, and you pass in and pass out of them in your own sphere of being. You are in your own space and you can always go back to that space, and you move your space across other spaces. You can feel time shift, feel space and time become stretched, compressed, elongated, as you move along — not as instant as an airplane, but at no human-generated speed. Have you ever stood at the Grand Canyon? You stand there on the rim and suddenly you know what is right and good and holy in this world; it will make you a believer. You go out there and drive through this land of ours, that isn’t one land, it’s filled with mountains and plains and rich towns and poor ones, and it’s all beautiful, and somehow out of that you get a sense of being alive and being here, and you find your own Grand Canyons, the ones that mean something to you and that you carry with you no matter where you end up; memories of small town restaurants and natural splendor and things that you won’t ever forget. It’s a spiritual experience, done properly, it’s an adventure. It’s like no other kind of travel, and it’s almost holy in its way.
That is what I said, somewhat paraphrased, and he said that I had converted him & we should go buy a car — but I just don’t know when, that is all. Someday, someday.
2 responses so far