notes from the road, 11/29

  • 6:00 a.m. I stagger into the kitchen looking for coffee and find my sister smearing sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce on bread. “You and Mom and Dad all get snack bags,” she said. “But I’m making a sandwich for Jeff with a little bit of every leftover dish we have from Thursday.”
  • 8:50 a.m. I’m in a Go Mart bathroom stall reading graffiti, near the edge of Lexington, Virginia. The toilet paper dispenser asks: “Are you ready to meet your God face to face?” I’m concerned that the author didn’t use hyphens when he wrote “face to face.” Much of the graffiti in this stall has been painted over, but this question was spared. Or else it’s a fresh piece.
  • 9:10 a.m. Fully in the mountains now. They’re stunning and I’m comparing them to Switzerland, for some reason. Probably because of the snow and the sparseness, the top-of-the-world feeling. These mountains aren’t as high, but they’re much, much older. I imagine I can feel the age of the earth sinking into my bones, making me wise and profound. I practice saying profound things, but my voice seems too loud. So I drive in silence.
  • 12:00 p.m. I take an exit on the edge of the town where I grew up, moseying through the strip malls of my childhood and gassing up at another Go Mart. When I walk in the attendant is saying, “Would you believe he can pick up just about any instrument and play it like he was on stage at the symphony? Of course everybody in my family could always do that, my father’s side and my mother’s side too. I guess it skipped a generation, because I couldn’t never play anything worth a lick. But Johnny says to me when he was five years old, he says ‘Dad why don’t you get me a violin?’ And that’s how it all started.” A woman with enormous crimped bangs is cooing and nodding with her mouth open.
  • 12:18 p.m. I turn up Cooridor G and take Cantley along the ridge until it hits Weberwood, at which point it becomes my old bus route. Faces and names come to mind as if I spoke to them yesterday: Megan Benson, who only took the bus when it was raining, Chris Rainey, Sam Namay, Stephen something. C-somthing, I think?
  • 12:20 p.m. Once I come down that ridge and back up into my old neighborhood, I’m in the territory where I once sold boxes of citrus fruit for the band boosters and popcorn for the boyscouts and, before that, wrapping paper just to have spending money. I’m in my old paper route. I’m sledding and scraping my knees and exploring the creek at the bottom of a sharp ravine and cutting through the woods whenever I missed the bus. It’s mildly surprising to me that I can drive effectively while having such strong reminiscences.
  • 12:34 p.m. I’m down in South Charleston now, near the chemical plant where Dad worked. I’m driving past Gorby’s music, where I learned to play the piano, and the public library where all the classic films were free and the modern films were $0.25/day. I pull over at Gino’s because, believe it or not, West Virginians make the best pepperoni rolls out there. I get two for the road.
  • 1:10 p.m. I enter Kentucky and I’m thinking about this blog, about how long it’s been since any of us wrote anything. What’s the shape of the path that winds between our old experiences and our current woes, perspectives, hopes? I turn on a playlist made up entirely of Dawes songs. “I’m always watching my bridges burn,” the lead singer claims. And, later: “Some people were just meant to be a memory, to be called upon to remind us how we’ve changed.” Dawes gets me. I decide I could be friends with the band and turn up the volume.
  • 3:15 p.m. I’m sick of driving. I pull over at an exit east of Louisville that promises Starbucks, refill my gas tank and buy a grande Christmas Blend. “Just cleaned out your half-and-half,” I let them know. “Thank you darlin,” they say. “You get enough for you?” I assure them I did. I do a little banking on my laptop and then fold myself back into my little car.
  • 4:40 p.m. It’s getting dark, but I’m in Indiana. I’ve found a second wind. I think maybe I’ll get home in time to catch an improv show, then I think maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll unpack and do laundry. My mind starts to churn thinking of all the commitments and promises I have to keep this coming week: double-checking my billing at work, presenting at a networking event on Friday, rehearsals, appointments, a script read-through. Phone calls.
  • 10:11 p.m. Back in my own bed. Reasonably fed and stretched out. The house smells like paint from one of my landlord’s unfinished projects. Funny how much thinking I’ve done today. Funny how I probably won’t do this much thinking again until Christmas. As I drift off, I resolve to think more and talk less. We’ll see how long that lasts.


Add yours →

  1. Thanks for this lovely reflection on the emotional churn of a road trip and the reminiscing and planning one can do.

  2. i particularly like the 9:10 am reflection. thanks for taking us with you. it’s always surprising how even reading about someone else’s new scenery leads to some good thinking.

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