Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Rover

Day 6: En Route to Little Rock

On November 5, 2009, after 3 years, 9 months, 31 days, 12 hours and 42 minutes, I drove out of Texas for the last time.

Crossing the border caused an upsurge of some emotion- I’m just not sure which one. It was just a strange feeling, like a weight was suddenly gone. There may have been a tinge of regret. But it was mostly overshadowed by joy. And relief.

Entering Arkansas, I wondered why states were divided as they are. Now, some state divisions are natural choices. There’s no point re-drawing a boundary after a mountain or a river has already done it for you, after all. But I always wondered about the boundaries that seemed more or less invented. Was it from some original land dispute? Is there an agricultural reason?

I still don’t know for sure. But I can tell you that there are noticeable geographic changes in the environment the second your cross over from Texas into Arkansas. For one, there are actually trees on the side of the road.

With no disrespect intended, in Texas, the land surrounding highways is empty and barren, unless it has some retail outlet built on the property. Otherwise you can expect the same uneventful landscape you would expect to see in the Midwest. In Arkansas, however, trees finally appear. What’s more: You finally realize just how much you missed trees to begin with.

The trees in Arkansas are not as majestic as their cousins in New England, but not for lack of trying. Bits of color spot the landscape, but hardly in the array of hues you would expect to see the in northeastern climes of our country. Still, they cushion the drive, and make you feel at ease on the road, more so than gas station signs and billboards ever could. It is a welcome change from the flatlands of Texas. They keep the commute strangely calm and relaxing.

There is a popular belief in the oft-held mythos that driving the highways of our country will lead to some “Great American Truth”, as if metropolitan air was toxic to enlightenment. I don’t think there’s anything to this theory. There is also a belief that a grand road trip helps a person understand himself or herself more, as it allows that person to do some soul searching. I’m not sure this is the case either. But then, I’m not looking for either one of these things. I’ll tell you what I have found, however inadvertently: Peace.

For some reason, driving in the stretches of road between civilization, a certain calm overtakes your demeanor. Suddenly, the near-constant monologue that all of us have running through our heads dissipates. Driving on the smooth, unveering highway to Little Rock, surrounded by the ever-eager trees of Arkansas, with your closest neighbors a half mile ahead of you and a half a mile behind you, it is impossible to live anywhere but the present. There are no thoughts rooted in the past, replaying stale hurts and regrets from days and years ago. And there are no pessimistic notions, prophesying dread-filled imaginations of a hopeful, ideal future gone completely unfulfilled. There is only the road at this moment, and the sun slowly toasting your left arm. The mind is finally, at long last, simply quiet.

I have no idea what’s waiting for me when I get home. The truth is, I don’t think I have the capacity to think that far ahead anymore. I’ll get to where I’m going when I get there. Heck, we’ll all get to where we’re going eventually.

We just have to keep going.

1 comment:

  1. There is no fate but what you make.

    Loving reading this stuff by the way.