Yesterday we spent seven hours driving from Ted's family home in the mountains of Pennsylvania to Cape Cod.
I saw 100,000 cars, and one man walking down the highway.
I wondered what it would be like if we were all walking--or even half of us. How long would it take to travel from Pennsylvania? How many people would I meet along the way? How often would we travel, and what would our lives be like at home?
I saw 9 deer grazing in a field near the highway. I had never seen so many deer in one place at one time. After an hour or two, Ted had to ask me kindly if I would please stop talking about them.
I saw a blinking sign that said YOU'RE ARRESTED
I wondered what I had done, but then the sign blinked again and it said DRINKING AND DRIVING IS A SERIOUS CRIME. I wasn't arrested after all. Phew.
I saw billboards that wanted me to drink Coors Beer and have my eyes checked.
I wondered when doctors started advertising on billboards.
I saw a million winter trees, stripped and broken or standing tall like arrows announcing the clouds.
I wondered when snow would come and cover them with its glitter and light.
I saw 99 rivers, 42 mountains, 36 cities, and 356 towns.
I saw factories where no one's worked for fifty years, and the tenements where the workers used to live.
I wondered who lived in them now and what they do for work.
I saw four cars that had been stopped by the police, two fender benders, and seventeen vehicles broken down on the road.
I saw one man's soft white belly, as he lay on the ground, working on his car.
I wondered at how vulnerable we all are.
I saw one boat on the Hudson River; and I saw the sun parting the water for it.
I opened the window to feel what the boat rider must feel, and wondered why there was only one.
I saw two and a half tons of trash spread along the side of the road, and 50,000 empty pick-up trucks.
I saw 99 McDonald's, 9 Starbucks and 103 Dunkin Donuts. I saw the Hibernian Diner where they have the best lentil soup I've ever had, and Di Mare's Pastry Shop where everything looks so good that choice is almost impossible.
Guess where we stopped?
I saw docked naval ships and tugboats, and Ted says I even saw a submarine, though I didn't much notice it.
I wondered how you can drive past a submarine and fail to see it.
I saw a stack of CDs we used to entertain ourselves on our way home, and I listened to Woody Guthrie singing "This land was made for you and me."
I joined in, wondering what Woody would sing now.
I saw road signs that announced New England and then Cape Cod, then our town, our street, our animals in the window.
I saw my own fatigue in the mirror inside the door. Ted said I shouldn't be tired; I hadn't even driven.
I wondered how anyone could take in 100,000 cars, 99 rivers and a million winter trees without wanting to sleep for a week when they were done.
I went to bed early and dreamed of the highway.
What about you? What did you see? What did you wonder?
Friday, December 29, 2006
100,000 CARS, 99 RIVERS and the existential question of the week