Paul - Hendersonville, North Carolina
Entered on March 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: place
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I believe that to see the world going by, I need not look further than the freeway. Even from an age when I was too young to drive, it occurred to me that there was a world and a flow all its own here. I see a microcosm of human existence here that is just as strongly connected as the rest of the world. By day we are droves of living nobodies, by night we are ghosts who dwell on a humming plateau. When the sanity of daybreak brings death to anonymity, the whole thing starts over again.

The word “freeway” can work as a pun. For the time being, while the road hums underneath me, I am nobody and sovereign at once. I am left in solitude to zone out on my inane task. I could keep going and who could stop me? When I’ve zoned out to excess though, my legs cramp up, my feet get worn out, or maybe the creases in your skin become increasingly real from sleeping on top of your seat belt.

The gas station to me is like a state of Limbo to rest in. When you’re too absorbed in the discomfort and the white noise, it is there at virtually any ungodly hour. I can stand in frozen time here when I need a break from the sound of the road. I can watch the world causing itself to spin. The bridge that gives strangers faces, like the daylight at the surface above an animal’s underground dwelling. But instead of daylight we are compensated with fluorescence.

When I look out at the different directions it becomes limitless. A horizon of on-ramps and endless possibilities, the intrigue of these paths that wind reaches far beyond my contemplation. All the things that happen in the stationary world happen here: crime, epiphany, fatigue, stagnancy, hunger, death, construction. I remember reconciling with a girlfriend in the parking lot of “Stuckey’s” out on 25. On the way to Columbia, I learned that PT Cruisers have no ground-clearance (because I ran over a discarded muffler with one).

I remember highway patrol flashers pummeling the dark of the night to bring sanity to the beach of glass where an eighteen-wheeler ground itself onto a sea-wall of concrete. Two or three cars spun around it. I have to admit I am a fan of the eighteen-wheeler. When everyone disappears in the night together, the truck remains a distinguished remnant, a creature forever damned and blessed in its niche. Its consolation is its omnipresence. For as long as there are roads to embark upon, there will be trucks to break them in, no matter where you are, there they will be, a fixture to the road.

The thing about these winding paths that is so fleeting to me is how you can disappear and be a part of something just the same as you look onto it from your glass barrier. The redemption of the horizon is there for you no matter what. You can lose your mind or find it here. Take your pick.