You say, “The Road won’t win this time. I will nail my feet to the ground. I will hold fast. I will be normal.”
You make plans and you imagine yourself the star of a movie where nothing changes and the hero (you), wakes in the same bed every morning all year round. And just as it begins to feel possible…
Come. Come to me.
Hands slap over ears. “I can’t! I won’t!”
You can. You will.
The moment your co-pilot turns to you, before his mouth even opens to speak, your heart raises its hand. Yes, you will go.
You’ve writhed and squirmed and fought but now you’re in that same old seat. Your eyes have become windshields, your lungs pistons, your brain a steering wheel.
Welcome home, the Road says.
You’re reading the maps, calculating the distances. No more junk food this time, you promise. Until the first shiny sign, a heartache of miles down the Road. Gut bombs away.
The radio crackles its death rattle. You dig out the miniature rectangle that holds all the songs in the world and beyond. “Remember when we had to carry all our CDs?”
But you remember more than that. You remember Johnny Cash on the eight-track player, snuggled between Mom and Dad in the front bench seat of a truck that was always too hot or too cold, and yet always just right. Even then, the Road sang you to sleep.
…I’d let that lonesome whistle blow my blues away.
It’s your turn at the wheel and you settle in as your co-pilot contorts into sleep.
“You okay?” he asks.
Better than okay. You steal glances as he sleeps. This is where you fell in love with him. This is where you love him best—on the Road.
Wipers slap and hypnotize.
You’re in Mississippi. Wild pigs run through the gas station and no one seems to notice but you and your co-pilot. Both of you so hungry but what are those deep fried things in the glass case—triangles, circles, logs, lumps of…?
You’re in Oregon. You can’t pump your own gas in Oregon.
In Colorado the thunder storms threaten to shake you apart.
Route 66. No wonder someone wrote a song about it. Road kill apparel? A room full of fireworks. A room! A pack of bombs proclaiming “God bless America…we kick ass!”
Winding along the coast of Northern California feels like reading a diary full of beautiful secrets. Motels time-warped from the 50’s. Of course you must see King Kong in the tiny theater, even if the seats have been pilfered from the school cafeteria and your butt is numb before the opening credits.
Silently you say, “Let’s keep going. Let’s never stop.” Maybe, if you keep going, the Road will take you away from “it”. Whatever “it” is—debt, grief, uncertainty, certainty, expectations, flaws, responsibility.
“You okay?” Slurred with sleep this time.
When you say it on the Road, it always feels true.