Stopping by the side of the road is generally discouraged these days. America has fallen out of love with sightseeing, and the practice is headed for the fate of the dodo and social security. You’ve got to live it, not look at it!, the new generation cries. With every frontier long conquered, and every sight plastered over your google search, what’s left to see, anyhow? Then there’s those swerving drivers hoping (in vain) that the auto-correct will allow them to keep at least one eye on the road while they text away. And we can't forget the amber-alert-inducing sex offenders on the look out for fresh meat.
Yet, call me old fashioned, but I’m not ready to kick the bucket on this simple pleasure. I want to jump out of the driver’s side and run across the road to pick the cherries I convince myself taste better than those you find in the produce aisle. Give me a sandy lake and a torn off pair of jeans and a bridge with a shoulder and a cannonball.
And driving down some state highway that connects two towns I’d never want to visit is a golf course that used to be a forest. Lonely pines and browning grass. A place to sit and think about the seasons. A place to stand and think about suburban sprawl. A place to run and slip on a patch of frost and think about health care reform.
My ride has a custom wing and flashy taillights my mother correctly predicted would draw attention from the highway patrol, but they sure were cool in high school. He doesn’t fit in with minivans and station wagons and Harleys needing a rest. But on a two-lane road whose yellow lines have long faded, there’s nothing to make me feel out of touch with the skinny jeans and study abroads and backwards hats and even my references are starting to seem outdated. So take a walk and lay in the frost and remember this winter too shall pass.
Slowly but surely I’ve boxed myself into a closet, and not the one Senators and celebrities are pulled out of. No, this is just a dark little nook where there’s no chance of witnessing the happiness that makes me jealous. And perhaps I’m sitting on the third fairway because at least it has better lighting than the cupboard under the stairs.
Or maybe I’ll just encourage myself by looking at how wrong the rest of the world is. My acts of micro treason against individual, not country (though perhaps I’ve betrayed the red white and blue here and there, too), seem like blips on the radar far afield from the hurricane spiraling over our heads. This fairway that robs a deer of its path and pushes it to a highway-near-you is just the beginning. What. The. Hell. Are. We. Doing.
Remember the 1950’s? I sure don’t, but from what I hear people really had hopes. My father tells me that he was sure we were headed for flying cars and miracle drugs and world peace and jello-turkeys for thanksgiving dinner. Go progress chrome! A shiny new world with lots of toys, and nothing sinister to distract us from the revelry.
Well it didn’t quite turn out that way. Apparently everyone kept following the bourgoisie piper, and we ended up with SUVs instead of spaceships, cialis instead of cures for cancer. Wars on drugs and terror instead of hunger. 99¢ value meals.
So at least I have that going for me: I haven’t sent the world spiraling inexorably towards doom. Rejoice, sir! You are not contributing to global unrest and worldwide hunger. Pat yourself on the back, son! You are not subjugating the brown or taxing the white. But as they say, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem…and laying on the grass isn’t sending any condoms to the Congo, if ya know what I mean.
That was a nice pep-talk. I don’t know why my guidance counselor never tried this line of thinking while he worked at keeping me from the directional school from which I’ll soon earn a diploma that might as well have “no monetary value” stamped on the back like some McDonald’s Monopoly piece.
…Come with me why don’t you? We can talk and fight and see the world from your choice of four windows which I promise you won't be so foggy once the engine heats up”
“Are you done?” And as she carelessly glances across the barren coffee table in my direction, “It’s time for studying, don’t we think?”
I’ve been meaning to make use of our swanky Ikea living room centerpiece for months now, it’s ten square feet crying out to the heavens for a large format book or at the very least a nice looking candle.
“Or perhaps it’s time to move to the jungle and play around in the Amazon with our Speedos on.” Zing. Nice comeback, Isaac. After that, there’s really not much left for her to say. So Ashley lets her eyes drift back to the self-made study sheet with 6-point font—so she can fold it up tomorrow and hide it under a sleeve while some tenured professor lazily twirls a pen, waiting for piled up bluebooks to replace students.
“Really. Let’s do something. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the scurvy is setting in from this seven year boat ride I keep hearing people call college.”
While she jots down notes, without looking up, “You do realize it takes everyone else four.”
The night passes thusly, as so many have before it.