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after a failed attempt at attending marching band festivities with paul, i was debating on how to spend the rest of a beautiful saturday afternoon. i quickly made my decision and pointed my car towards an oddly familiar stretch of road.
in southeastern ohio there is really no good way to get anywhere. hills, trees and similar geographical obstacles usually prevent any logical pathway from forming. luckily, in our infinite wisdom and technological advances, we are now able to dig through boulders and shave off mountains in the name of making travel from Point A to Point B that much faster. not that i'm complaining. the construction of a bigger, badder highway afforded me the opportunity to take an aimless drive on the old winding road it replaced. it's a tree lined, scenic highway with frequent 30mph curves that meanders through farmlands, and towns with names like pratts fork and shade, and you are keenly aware of being far from a world of skyscrapers and smog and city streets. it's a bitch to drive in winter, but on a sunny day it can free your soul.
i used to take this old highway on a weekly basis, before the much straighter and faster "super two" was completed in the fall of 2004. as a benchmark, a drive that used to take me at least forty-five minutes -- on a good day -- using the old highway, would now take me about twenty on the new one. my journeys ended in the late summer of 2003, so you can imagine the painful irony for me.
i used to hate that drive. the first several times on that stretch, i was either stuck behind someone going 25mph, or being followed by someone wanting to go 85mph. or both, on several infuriating occasions. i don't always have a lot of patience behind the wheel, and there was usually lots of yelling going on when this was happening. but one day i finally had the road to myself; not a car in sight. i swear i could hear angels singing from heaven, God raining down benevolence upon me.
but even that luster wore off after awhile. a nearly hour long drive which demands your full attention each and every week becomes quite a chore, especially at seven in the morning. the reason for the drive was becoming painful, and the eventual reason for not driving it was even more painful still. i have traveled that highway perhaps once in the last three years; i've really had no particular need for it, and still don't. besides, that stretch of road, for me, is part of a long list of memories from a life i've mostly come to terms with, but have no need to relive.
just as i predicted, i was the only car on the road for miles and miles. i knew every bend in the road, each house, even the small county and township crossroads. i was also in a less powerful but more agile car than i was always used to on this road, and i took every advantage i could in the perfect driving conditions. the best part of it all was that i had absolutely no reason to be on this road. in an era of rising gas prices, emissions controls, and global warming this may seem like a preposterous thing to do. but those few gallons of gas were worth more than any movie, dinner, or gadget on which i could have spent money. if the thought of driving through the midwest with the windows down on a sunny october day doesn't bring you joy, you have no soul.
but more than all these things, this drive was therapeutic; a kind of salve. when i think of driving down old us-33, i will be less likely to think of early morning drives and illogical commutes and plans gone awry. i will instead remember this sunny autumn day and the windows rolled down and listening to john mayer waiting on the world to change. i will remember the turning of the trees and the crispness of the air and the day i reclaimed this road as my own.
Posted on Sunday, October 8, 2006 at 01:28AM by Registered Commentermdog | Comments5 Comments

Reader Comments (5)

I'm so glad that we only watched the awards presentation. :O)
Oct 8, 2006 at 06:37AM | Unregistered Commenterpaul
I love epiphany drives like that. It seems there are many more roads in Ohio and Pennsylvania where that type of drive is possible. It's one of things I miss.
Oct 8, 2006 at 09:56AM | Unregistered CommenterTB
beautiful. poetic.

writing as a second career?
Oct 8, 2006 at 11:16PM | Unregistered Commenterkt
Gloria a Dios as they say here. Love you!
Oct 9, 2006 at 12:57AM | Unregistered CommenterSJL
paul - me too. :)

tb - it's just not the same with palm fronds, is it?

kt - you really want me to take up writing, don't you? i think i'll have to keep my day job though.

sjl - hi. :) love you too.
Oct 9, 2006 at 09:21AM | Registered Commentermdog

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