Last night reminded me of how much I love roads. Driving in my car, listening to Reuben and the Dark, watching the lights of the city pass by. There’s something intriguing about roads, especially at night. In high school I worked at this sandwich shop. On my break I would always sit at a table facing Main Street so I could watch the cars passing by. Part of what interested or intrigued me was thinking of the people in those cars. I’m a writer and I’ve always had a pretty active—or overactive—imagination. I’d wonder who was in each car, where they were going and why.
I used to dream about the road leading to the Grand Canyon. I went there for the first time when I was fifteen. It was a journey of self-discovery, when I began to realize and understand who I really was and just how much music and nature meant to me, were a part of me and my soul. Sometime my sophomore year of high school I started planning an escape. I was going to run away—to the Grand Canyon. I had all sorts of things planned out—what I’d take with me, how I’d get there, how I’d get money. Looking back now, it seems pretty ridiculous! I’m sure I wouldn’t have lasted more than a week, maybe less. But I was so depressed, so alone, so ready to leave a life that felt like a prison. I couldn’t wait to get on the road—a road I thought would lead to something better. Of course now I know that it really wouldn’t have solved anything—running away.
Is that all roads are, though? A tool to take us away? Roads aren’t just physical, though. I think of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. Using roads to represent decisions in life. I suppose a road is really just a thing that takes us from one place to another—both physical and metaphorical. And sometimes they take us nowhere. I’ve always loved driving, especially before I was married or had kids. When I was at college, I’d often get in my car, crank my music and just drive. Sometimes I’d have a destination, but most of the time it was just about the freedom the road represented.
I feel the road calling to me again. Reuben and the Dark’s song, The River, talks about a road and a light leading home. Now that I’m older, hopefully smarter and more mature, responsible—I’m a mother now—I can see the difference between running away and moving on. Choosing a road—a road that doesn’t take me from home, but leads me to it. Physical, metaphorical, both—I may be on the road again. Lights, life passing by, along with all the other people choosing where the road will take them.