Long Stretch of Road

I love driving! Driving around town, taking long road trips- there is something freeing and fulfilling about being in a car and moving towards a destination. I got to take over the last four hours of the drive coming home this weekend. Lisa slept for an hour or two and it was just me and the long stretch of road in front of me. There’s this amazing at-one-ness I feel when I’m driving. I see the road and I know I need to mold my actions to its curves. I can feel the car’s mechanics alter as I push down on the gas or brake. It’s an invigorating companionship. I feel connected with the machine around me as it struggles up each hill and winds through traffic.

Cars are easy to understand. Not like people. There’s a certain way you treat them and they always respond the same way. Whatever the hum of the engine and the speedometer is telling me is true. It’s freely given and clearly read. I know how I need to act when I’m in the driver’s seat. There is no ambiguity.

Driving in the desert reminds me of home more than anything else. Numberless family road trips culminating in the long hours of desert on our way home are doubtless the culprit. There’s something still and empty about it. There is a road cut out of nothing. A barren wasteland going off in both directions. But I’ve never been scared of that feeling, it always means that safety, familiarity, and security are only a short distance away. And so I’ve learned to embrace those last moments of solitude where it’s you and the world before life and the confines of walls enter into the picture again.

Something else I like, particularly about road trips, is that your stuck. Your stuck in a car with either your thoughts or your car-mates, be they family, friends, or strangers. You can’t do anything else. You can’t run errands and check things off your to-do list. You’re forced to build your relationship with whoever you’re with. Even if that person is just yourself. I think it’s healthy in a revealing sort of way. I often feel raw and bare after I’ve gotten home from a long drive. But not in the way a rope rubs on the same spot over and over making it bleed, its the way your face feels when you’re running as fast as you can against the wind. It makes you feel alive.

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