Two yellow stripes. A black, textured, continuous birth canal. My companion the dark highway. I can remember these Orphic travellings from my youngest days as the tiny constellation of my family crossed half the continent in a scattering of nights. The love of the night highway grew in me as my countless journeys ticked their odometer marks into my consciousness.
I can remember it all so vividly. The black pavement, almost infinite, it's defining lines threading the recurring pools of light from the overhanging lamps. In later times, I drove, pushed forward, the streetlights snaking their linear patterns before me. These dark ways, watched over by the King of Beef and the Queen of Dairy. Neon and argon, excited by streams of electrons, enliven the acres of black parking pavement as the car sits, tap-tap-tapping the song of cooling metal and settling fluids. Back on the road, the curving procession of red tail-lights stretch before me, leading, and tracing the contours of the invisible landscape.
But there are not always others to lead. The barren tarmac has it's own allure. There is a last man on earth feeling, as if there are only two points: Myself, and a Destination, far off approaching. It is on these empty roads that I am a god, swooping close to the ground, hugging hill and dale, patrolling the empty spaces between towns, between the outposts people have built to keep out the night. Or I am a perfect human, returning from a triumph, from a glorious drop of time that feels like I've been suspended in honey. At these times the works of man blend effortlessly with those of nature, there ceases to be a difference between an overpass and a ridge, between asphalt and grass, between cement and trees. They all exist, unified, together framing the surface I travel. Or I am an urchin, a wretched soul fleeing the hurt. Disappearing, for a moment, from my life and all it's disasters. On those nights the trees threaten, their gnarly roots unfamiliar and unwelcoming, staving off any urge to leave the road. Or perhaps I am merely a beaten down exhausted pack mule on a banal utilitarian journey, counting miles, cities, interstates, slowly nearing the point of opulent rest.

At age 10, middle age was someone else's fiction
a rumor, a story told secondhand

At 20, middle age was a warning, a possible consequence
usually mentioned in connection with things left undone,
to describe expectations that might be unfulfilled

At 30 middle age was a fun house mirror
with no one laughing.

When I think about 50, it feels far away,
not that far.

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