Driving from one side of the country to the other, then turning around to go back again.
This post comes from our FP contributor and friend, Anna.
I awake before dawn, the heater clicks on the moment I open my eyes and begins to rattle and hum. I am in a motel room somewhere in New Mexico not far off Route 66 where I slept a total of four hours on a thin mattress with questionable bedding. There were two pillows on the bed but only one with a pillow case.
I stand up in the dark, reach for the jeans that are at the foot of the bed with a small pile of my belongings and pull them on. I open the curtain and peer outside into the dark. The sign outside is glowing dimly, announcing to no one that all rooms have cable TV. I close the curtain and contemplate having a shower, but upon glancing into the bathroom at the stained linoleum and the thin turquoise towels folded on the shelf above the toilet, decide I will wait another day.
I’ve gone 10,000 miles this way. Driving from one side of the country to the other, then turning around to go back again. I sleep in the back of the truck sometimes and on other people’s couches. Occasionally, I sleep at dingy motels promising TV and complimentary coffee in small Styrofoam cups. On this morning I want neither, so I throw on my jacket and get back into my truck.
The sun is beginning to rise in the desert. I turn on the engine and the radio comes on with it, an AM station with a woman speaking calmly in Spanish. I can’t remember what I was listening to when I pulled into this motel last night, but for all I know it could have been AM radio. I pull out onto the main road and turn up the volume, glancing into the rearview mirror to see the motel sign disappear behind me.
Past the ruins of gas stations and truck stops, motels and diners, on the the ghost highway ever reminding its traveler of the impermanence of all things. All things, that is, besides concrete, plastic and metal. I drive through snow, through high desert, visions of saguaro cactus and coyote road kill, into the alien landscape, I drive west. West because it is winter, west because I already went as far east as I could go.
+ What makes you turn around? Or, what makes you keep going?