FROM THE ROAD - The Roads Taken
Driving from town to town. Living paycheck to paycheck. The audiobooks and music listened to in the zone of anesthetizing his thoughts during the lonely miles upon miles of roads traveled. He’s driven about 400,000 miles in 8 years. The audiobooks keep his thoughts from diving into the darker parts of his life; Fantasy, Fiction, Murder and Mayhem, Love and Romance, Thrillers and Spine Chillers. The food and sand encrusted floor is home to a treasure of fast food bags and soda cups that daily must be purged to avoid odoriferous perfumes of rot. Pistachio shells litter that same floor, falling between the seats as he concentrates on the road, missing the trash bag he tries to toss them into. His car travels the dark corridors of the highways, wandering from lane to lane. Passing and being passed, honking when being cutoff. Driving tired, driving awake, driving happy, driving angry, driving from sun up until sun down. Picking up one package and dropping it off only to be called again and again to go here or go there. His ass gets fatter from sitting and driving over the years. He falls asleep at the wheel, hits a curb when GPS angers him, gets hit by a driver sliding on ice, hits an ice ball in the middle of the road; all these motions damage his car and take money from his pocket. He drives 1 hour, 4 hours, 10 hours trips, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the day, 24/7. Some packages are heavy and with his dolly he pushes them into someone’s home to deliver their supplies or machines. Some packages are lighter than a feather and he wonders what is in them, but it is none of his business when they are delivered on time. Time is not his friend when traffic is at a stop or the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel is full of traffic on a holiday weekend, cars at a full stop or driving to slowly because the scared rabbit drivers fill the passing lane where they need not be. His hand protrudes through the oculus at his side and the wind whips the summer breeze through the car. During another time he may open that same window when it’s freezing cold out just so that he can stay awake as he drives. Parking lots, motels, visitor centers; may be places you might find him as he sleeps in his car, too tired to go on. “Driving for hours every day is like having jet lag on a daily basis” he says. Naps, naps and more naps when driving is done. Walking into the house like a drunk after driving for 12-15 hours straight. It takes a toll on your body, your mind and time streams past you.
The driving isn’t all bad and it isn’t all good. The sunrises that have been witnessed when none had been seen for years. The sunsets across beaches, mountains, through the trees, across the swamp, falling sun behind the mountains. The fog, as it rolls across the water in the early morning and late evening breeze. The lights of the vehicles ahead and behind blind him and he blind others. Cars that crashed into walls, barriers, mountain sides, other cars, killing and maiming unseen motorists as police cars, ambulances and firetrucks wail and flash their blue and red lights that fall on his face as he drives past the scenes of others misery. The moon is full and so big on a night, or it’s missing in the darkest of nights making the road hard to see. Headlights illuminate the night as he drives his fog lamps lighting up the deer on the side of the road eating their fill of freshly mown grass. Other times they stand in the middle of the road and his car swerves around them to miss them by inches, but other animals haven’t been as lucky: rabbit, cat, dog, squirrel, toad on the road, opossum flattened by the front tire, skunk stinking up the car that he tried to straddle. State parks on the left and right get him to stop and photograph. Light of a traffic signal calling him to go is caught in his camera as is the bridge abutment just up ahead. Trash he sees on the side of the road or a mattress tossed near the tracks of the warehouse road. He sees the land, the clouds and the sky in its beauty and glory he captures its colors and flora. He holds the camera of the cell phone level and makes a clean shot out the oculus window to his sides or in the front. He stops the car on the side of the road an makes pictures of the land covered in snow, trees, water or the blowing frigid ice as it sweeps across the pastures and roads. He drives carefully, he drives with authority, he drives because it pays, he drives because he loves it, he drives hating it, yet he drives and drives and drives.