This Too Shall Pass

There are any number of reasons to prefer traveling by car to going by plane: better food, the ability to bring multiple pairs of running shoes without paying baggage fees, superior food options, and the ability to sing at the top of one's lungs without getting tasered by an Air Marshal to name just a few. ( "Opportunity knocks once, let's reach out and grab it, Together we'll nab it, We'll hitchhike, bus, or yellow cab it! Cab it?!?")

But one of the things I like best is the human scale of automotive travel. One can choose a state route or back road, and witness the passing of towns and fields and houses outside the windshield. I am particularly fond of rotting cars and tumbledown barns, and especially of decrepit old houses. ( "You know, sometimes, I don't know why, But this old town just seems so hopeless. I ain't really sure, but it seems I remember the good times, Were just a little bit more in focus.") 

I love the empty ones, the broken ones; the ones with empty eyes and doors off the hinges, the ones with gaps between the boards. I love the ones succumbing to gravity, the tired ones that are saying "I'm just gonna lie down a minute." I love speculating about the house's story. Once it was a shining new home. A young groom carried his bride across the threshold. A farmer balanced his books at the kitchen table. Friends laughed over long drawn-out dinners. Parents painted the nursery late into the night. These buildings once housed hope, and love, and seemingly endless promise. ( "I belong to you, now. I belong to you...." )

And then something went wrong. Children left and never came home, the bank called in the loan, the well went dry, or the wife and the dog ran off with a neighbor. And the house was abandoned. The elements are slowly reclaiming the wood and the shingles. The chimney will crumble. Someday only the foundation and some rusty nails will bear witness that it ever stood at all. ( "You've got me fighting naked, nothing's sacred. We're tearing paint off the walls...") 

And I realize that my joys and my troubles, too, will someday oxidize and become worm-eaten and will blow away in the dust. Others will make use of my copper pipes and pilfer my fancy hinges, mice will bed down in strands of my hair. All the laughter and the tears will mingle and swirl away on the breeze. ( "You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you're standing in the eye.") 

A road trip provides perspective and puts one firmly in her small yet beautiful place in the long parade of human history. It's the human condition for joys to be temporary, so I must grab them while I can and allow my heart to soar. But woes, too, will fade and soften over time and will eventually be forgotten. That is the great lesson of driving through these landscapes and the root of my love for the road trip. That, and turning my car into a moving cabaret. ("The less we say about it the better, Make it up as we go along. Feet on the ground, head in the sky, It's okay, I know nothing's wrong.")