Back Roads Home (II)
Letting go is hard. There are moments in our lives, birth, death, moving, that makes us feel anxious. It makes me procrastinate even more. I am surrounded by my life, depicted in photographs, letters, books, things I must sift through and, either, save or pitch. I hate doing this. I hate the fact that here, before my eyes, is all that I amount to. I know that I am more. I know that these pictures, these letters evoke other moments in my life when I felt the unease or euphoria of living. My journals are filled with the words I have dedicated to recording events. And, yet, it is hard to let go.
Letting go of what? I carry around within my mind feint glimpses of the initial memory and only need some prompt to remember greater detail. And it takes just something small, something we would pass on normally, for me to remember something special. As young student, I had to walk from my house to the bus stop. This would take me about 200 yards down the street; pass our ball field, down the hill to a t-section. I passed one house in particular that an old man and his wife lived with their dog. The dog would bark enthusiastically several feet before I passed, the old man would come to the large picture window and wave. I would wave back. It became a routine. Today, 25 years later from my high school graduation, I still look at that house, expecting some ghost to be standing there waving. I still smile.
A short or long stretch of road would call to mind driving from my home in Virginia back to my parent’s home in Pennsylvania. On the seat beside me, an open journal for that brief moment when inspiration would hit and it hit often. I would also have the camera with me, joggling it on top of the steering wheel to get the shots I could through the wind screen. When the drive allowed, I would note the play of light on the trees, the way they drifted in the breeze and the other cars about me. I watched the blue sky and pale yellow sun turn to the deep indigo of dusk and golden hues of sunset. I always hoped that I would have the drive to myself but that would only happen once I hit a certain stretch that ran through the mountains between Breezewood to Bedford and Bedford to Windber. I drove and played on the edge. I could triangulate time with familiar bends, houses and trees of the landscape. Time seemed varied, slow and fast, suspended. Sometimes I wondered how I had gotten from one spot to the next, how had time flown so quickly, the miles pass without some acknowledgement. But it did.
To this day, I can drive those miles in my mind and know where I am going. One time, coming home, flying from London to Washington, my parents picked me up at Dulles and we decided to drive home, instead of staying over night. I was tired from the trip over the water and not at my best navigation abilities. I took them north along 95 and missed the entrance onto the Beltway to go to Great Falls, Maryland. We ended up going through Washington proper, into an iffy stretch of city streets, and onto the Beltway, nearer the Baltimore side. Mom was upset and wanted to turn around. I insisted that we didn’t. I had been this way before; it had all come flooding back when I remembered the landscape. And I was right; we merged onto the Beltway at College Park and headed north to Rockville.
This day, here in Glasgow, I still walk familiar paths to and from points of use. Sometimes I deviate for variety. No longer are the friends that I have met along the way, usually animals that are out and about, there to greet me. But I still do, hoping that maybe new friends would find me. I still smile at others, and stop and talk to total strangers. The meeting, the greeting, I hope leaves us both for the better, happy.
Perhaps the roads back home are just the same as the roads in some new distant place. They only become familiar when we explore. Change in our lives is just that, new landscapes, new places, inward and outward journeys for exploration. It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you mark them, record them. Any road is important.