I’m on the road more lately, traveling between the two cities where my heart lives. I drive up and down a two-lane highway most days, watching crops grow and leaves turn and women changing out their flower pots to reflect the seasons.
“I love to look at the flowers at this house, ” I told my love one day as we passed by together. “She changes the flowers every so often.”
“I have never even noticed that, ” he said, which was remarkable since he drives by at least twice as much as I do. The flower pots, they were so vibrant and big and many.
A few weeks later I realize I haven’t even looked at the flowers for several days. And now, glancing over as my car barrels past, the pots are empty. The cold nights and crystalline frosts caused the leaves to turn black, no doubt. A woman in love with flowers as much as she was would never leave plants with blackened leaves in the pots.
Empty, sit the pots. No flowers to notice. Not that I would anymore.
Although I do know where the policeman sits in the little town with just the one stoplight and the 30 mph speed zone. I track progress on the construction project where they are fixing a drainage issue, and I monitor how long the detour signs will remain. When those signs go down, my route will change.
The signs have always been there since I started making this trip.
I think of Jack Kerouac on the road, and his autobiographical work I could never bring myself to read. I think of all the road-trip narratives about growing up and coming of age in broken-down vans in the middle of the desert. I think road trips should be about leaving and arriving, but mine is about leaving and arriving, over and over again.
Cars pass. Or rather, people pass in cars. They drive, therefore they are. Interestingly, I’m not the only one on the road, though it feels that way.
Tires roll, pavement heats, trees and buildings and people pass by quickly, melding into smudges on a canvas that I call life.
Life on the road.
I call my mom.
I turn on the radio.
I ride in silence.
Sometimes, when it’s dark, and I imagine the deer congregating along the shoulder of the rural highway, I change routes and find my way home on a four-lane, then six-lane, then eight-lane interstate. Sometimes I see flashing lights and twisted metal and grief in the construction zones. Once, I saw my own life flash before my eyes as I dozed off and woke to the rumble strips.
My head bobbed tiredly the rest of the way home. But at least I arrived.
The next day I left again.
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