Writing again has got me thinking. And thinking gets me writing. Well, thinking about traveling in cars gets me thinking more and then there are words but most of them come out kind of like bursts of memory because what I think about are the images that I keep on quick-recall not the ones that I’ve got attached to the pictures from that one trip, or a different trip; the one that got no photographic evidence at all – the ones that are clearest in my world because there is no other record of them than the words that frame the memory of the image that marks a place on the road.
Not some figurative road, nothing about growth or becoming. An actual road.
- The road in the Ozarks coming out of a storm so pitch black and pouring rain it was impossible to think and impossible to do anything but that with my father driving the Jeep and the music silent and then the stillness of no more rain and then the impossible glow in the distance and the music rising and the sunset fiery as the first dawn and yes, yes I do Hear The People Sing.
- A field in the middle of the Black Hills. A few weeks before something extraordinary and magical in a group of people converging safely away from all of us. My father and I and the dogs and the Jeep and another sunset, this one quiet and impossible, the music only evening insects and we cracked cheap bears on the roof and watched the sky and the dogs racing circles in the unfamiliar world.
- My mother and I return to our homes after a holiday spent all together and along the highway a huge bird of scavenging will not take flight from his road kill and we cannot swerve, he is that large and the road is that small and he finally takes off and I swear his talons scrape the outside of the windshield and I cannot even laugh to ease the tension it is so beautiful and so close to something so different.
- A poem in a car, on the player in the dash. A woman’s voice, a man’s voice and there is power and there is grief and it is thrumming and I am lifted and the words end and the silence of their ending begins to enfold me and “The End!” says my friend and it is right and it is awful and I laugh and never forget to remind her that her timing is more odd than mine.
- Twists and turns in the backroads, not the highways, between my house and hers, her mother not wanting any of her girls on the highway for safety reasons so we drove through brick-filled neighborhoods and knew all of the potholes and the best Taco Bells and here it was we found the difference between temporary acquaintances and friendships in shared breakfasts and rain-soaked road trips and even now I hear her voice and it is next to me in the car and we are heading home.
- And the paths that lead through burial grounds in towns across Nebraska and Iowa and Missouri, and the names are of my family and mine will not join them, not here. And the ghosts of my family do not bother each other in these places; they stay home, in the kitchens, at the tables, on the other end of unanswered phone calls, impossible conversations. Perhaps they are why the car trips: we bring home the stories they cannot.
- And the road that I did not drive. The one that took us by the corner down from the one that used to be mine. And I was terrified at it and drunk and you were Telling Me Something and all I could think was how far away it seems, and how far away it is and I could not talk about anything real and it is only now that I can measure the distance and I wonder what that means. And I wonder what perspective the next road will throw on the one that I travel now. Especially since now I have a bike. Bike!