It’s true love.
Sure, it can be draining, physically tasking and nerve-racking, but to be out on the road with miles behind you and even more ahead is a romance that makes living worth dying for. It was somewhere in the middle of windswept Alabama or Tennessee that I felt the ephiphanic thrill of knowing that briefly – far too briefly – nothing else in my life mattered. The job back home, the money in my bank account, the exes in my past, where I came from or where I was going, none of it touched me.
Of course, it could only be a fleeting sensation since, inevitably, I would eventually reach my destination, Boston. But, then again, Boston isn’t a destination so much as another stop in this gargantuan journey; a sustained destination where I work and have a personal life, but still a finite one. In another short 8 months, I’ll embark on the final leg of this sprawling endeavor, a winding mountain pass.
It’s easy sometimes to lose sight of the road, to get focused on the crick in your neck, the burning in your lower back, the weights on your eyelids, and think only of getting to the next city, making it to the end. But every hour on an open road adds exponentially to your lifespan. Forget egg whites and antioxidants, the true secret to long life is in a gas pedal. If you choose to think of the pavement as a bridge between two towns, then the day slips away from you, but if you can think of every inch of the road as the destination you want to be at right now, then no minute is lost.
Which is not to say that I live my life with some beatific belief in the now. I’m always thinking of the future, and sometimes I’m damn sick of the present. There’s so much more that I want out of my life, and I can’t help but imagine a time when I have it.
But there was a moment this past week on the drive between Arizona and Massachusetts when I remembered why I do what I do. Traveling in any capacity, while sometimes bitterly difficult and crushingly lonely, is the only path of freedom. The road is life.
The road is love.