I called ahead to find the bypass; surely there was a way to get to point B without traveling through the environs of my youth? I was told that straight through the town was the direct route.
It’s not that I don’t like driving down the roads that lead to my hometown anymore; it’s just that I like to be efficient. If I’m going out of my way to go through there, I want to be sure that I can kill two birds with one stone; to get to point B, and also get some Brownie points by visiting my Mom. Without the brownie points, the drive seems like a waste. Do I avoid this place because I just don’t want to be reminded?
Or is it because once I am enveloped in a 360 degree circle by these hills, that I feel like it’s a homecoming; a homecoming that is illusionary. While it’s not as painful as it once was, I do find it rather annoying that I am, deep down, wishing things aren’t the way they are.
This takes an enormous amount of energy; I have none to spare.
So, with no detour available during this winter snow scrawl that left the back roads a bit treacherous, I was forced to see these all too familiar, from-the-car window views from my childhood not as destinations that simply take me home; but rather as a stranger would, seeing them for the first time.
This landscape I loved so well betrayed me; it let the world change before I was ready. I need to blame someone. To claim this as my own, I would have to accept the mourning, and the betrayal that accompanies the fact that I don’t live here anymore. That I am an outsider. Now, I can see, in a detached way, these icons for what they are — historical markers, fragments of dreams, and striking landscapes.
Except, my heart attached itself to every scene I saw, vining a memory around each curve, each fence post, and even the clouds. Once I started paying attention, I found myself wanting to devour the landscape. Literally. I grabbed my camera, stopping to take a shot here and there to capture the pristine beauty of these roads that are so unlike anywhere else that I see anymore, anyplace.
With each picture I snapped, I was trying, in as dignified way as possible, to imprint them in my memory, trying to lift what is so deeply ingrained in my psyche to the top; so that I can access what I need in a moment’s notice, whenever the need strikes.
I stopped snapping pictures here; this spot is the recurring starting point for so many of the dreams I have at night – yet I don’t know why.
There are usually dark, black cows here, which I have always found majestically beautiful in their own way. The storm forced the cows to take shelter, I imagine.
The task, I realized was too formidable, more than my hands could click. The camera cannot link what I see with my eyes with what I see with my heart. Each fence post, each curve in the road, and each abandoned graveyard has tentacles that reach out to flash a long-forgotten memory. With my camera out of my hands, I realized these roads have already wrapped ribbons around my heart. I cannot see these road as a stranger.
I needed to get moving to Point B, and I was getting too many questions about “are we there yet,” from my one-and-only little companion in the back seat every time I stopped. What a difference it would make, if I traveled these roads more often with him, to visit his Grandma. Then, these roads would grab his heart too, and start spinning its ribbons.