At the rest stop last night I saw an older couple walking their dog and it really set me on a kick of being lonely. I have always enjoyed taking long trips by myself but as I am coming into the middle of America I cannot help but wish someone was here with me this time.
It is not so much that I wish I had someone to talk to but rather that I wish I had someone to show these things to. I know there are a million eyes that pass by these places all the time but those eyes do not have me next to them to point things out. Those eyes probably catch the billboards and the turnpike signs but they do not witness what is in the distance.
I passed over the Rocky Mountains silently. I didn’t even turn on the radio. It made it all seem so much more solid, stoic, wonderful than the noise would have allowed it to be. These are the moments that I am caught in the in-betweens. If I had someone there they would surely want to chat, or turn the radio on, or flip through book pages, anything to give way to the silence. But not having anyone there means not being able to share this country with them, these blue skies over gray mountains, these birds soaring as high as possible, these high pines that have stood for centuries.
I know that when I get where I am going I will not be able to describe these things, as I am able to out here on the road. I know that as picturesque as they seem out here that when I am confounded to a city again they will lose their meaning. I will forget them slowly.
I am not taking pictures.
I had to call Jon from the rest stop last night and try to make him understand, what it is I am experiencing out here. It is Jon who is the writer and I figured that if anyone would be able to grasp these pictures with the words I will give, it would be him. I am not for sure if I succeeded or failed. I would like to think that he got it.
I said, Jon, you’ve got limited space where you’re at and you don’t understand that because you’ve never left. If there is anyone that I associate so closely with the place that they live, it is Jon. I know he loves it but that is not a sufficient reason not to leave. So, I had to explain to Jon what it is he is missing out here. If there is anyone I would like to share this trip with the next time, I said, Jon, I would like it to be you.
I have always figured that Jon would be the type that would not talk but would scribble things on the scraps of paper that he keeps in his pocket. Napkins, receipts, post-it notes, all littered with the words he can no longer keep inside his head. I wouldn’t figure that I would have to worry about Jon ruining the silence for me, and just as well I would get a free account of the way he was able to see the things I was unable to notice when my eyes needed to be focused on the road.
At any rate, I ran out of quarters after about ten minutes and I had to let Jon know I would hopefully get a chance to call him from Arkansas or Nevada, whichever I ended up in. Jon hung up but before I had a chance to hang up the receiver that voice that reminds you to put more change in came on and I hung on a few seconds more to listen.
I couldn’t help but realize that in every region of the States, that voice seems to be different and it never seems to fit. For example, in northern California, the voice has a southern accent sent straight from the Gulf Coast. Or in Minnesota, it is a woman’s voice but as soon as you cross the border into South Dakota, a man answers. And in certain areas of Illinois, the voice even says Illinoise.
I summed it up that the voices on the telephone are very similar to the majority of the people you find in this country. You discover people in places that you would not expect them to be. The southern accent in California is really no different than the beautiful actress turned bartender I met in Colorado. It doesn’t make much sense until you figure out why they’re there. A company in Texas owns the phone company that services Northern California. And as for the actress, she refused to sell out, get her boobs done, pose nude. And she’s much better at making mixed drinks than she is memorizing lines anyway.
The open road is much the same. Jon didn’t understand why I have a love affair with it, traveling from town to town, playing a show each night and then packing up and driving miles and miles for the next. It doesn’t make much sense until you’re out here, man. I had to leave it at that because I didn’t have many other words to explain it.
When I woke up in the morning still at the rest stop I noticed that the older couple had already set out. It was only six a.m. Lets get a move on, I thought to myself, and I was back out on the road again in minutes. Traveling down a lost highway on a fuel tank of dreams and despair. Today, I thought, I will not ride in silence, so I turned the music up loud and sang along. Today will be a good day to be alone on an open road.