Outside the Jeep, the world is wet, sometimes frozen but mostly just saturated, rarely dry. It’s the Southeast after all. Save for the rhythmic thump of the windshield wipers sliding away the ice, the rain, the wiper fluid rinsing dust from my front and rear windows, I drive in relative quiet. No Sirius XM. No podcast. No phone call coming through on Bluetooth. Just the swish of wipers moving up, then down, then up again. Steady and smooth, they stay true like a metronome, be there drizzle or downpour.
Palm trees pass by my window. Then golden maple leaves rimmed in the ruby red of fall. Then evergreens, their limbs limp from the heavy snow that dumps from a clouded sky. Occasionally, there are skyscrapers, too, and then that lush and wooded world turns to a concrete jungle filled with reds and greens and golds of a different nature. Static, then blinking. Brake lights. Traffic lights. Streetlights.
It’s never the same. A constant blur of landscape and cityscapes careening past by day, stealthily sliding by at night. With camper in tow, my eyes flit from rear view mirror to side view mirror then back again.
Today, there’s no weather to contend with, no traffic to sit through. It’s a nearly cloudless summer day. The setting sun blazes against the pavement. With the push of one, two buttons, the air conditioning is off, the windows are down. The warmth of the sun fills the interior, the rush of wind tousling my hair. I plug an auxiliary cord into my iPhone. Spotify. Talking Heads. Road to Nowhere. Speakers, six of them, hum during the chorus.
I’m going somewhere, of course, headed south toward the coast of the Carolinas, but David Bryne’s words ring loud and clear.
Maybe you wonder where you are. I don’t care. Here is where time is on our side. Take you there. Take you there.
I adjust the side view mirror away from the sun’s glare. The yellow dotted line ticks by in rhythm with the whizzing reflections of fence posts lining the carless road. In the air is a hint of freshly cut hay, a dash of cooked concrete.
A pinkish-orange hue fills the sky beyond my windshield. The few clouds hanging lazily on the horizon are a deep indigo, their edges bleeding fiery crimson. Behind me, the sun showers the road ahead in a golden light.
It’s a sight worthy enough of a desktop screensaver, a college dorm room poster with a cliché quote—Not all who wander are lost. I think of my job and balancing the extremes of long hours behind the computer, followed by long hours alone with car and camper (The Rigsbys) as my sole companions.
Life on the road isn’t for everyone. At times I’ve wondered if it’s even for me. But when I’m feeling lonely, or I’ve made a wrong turn, lost a headlamp for the umpteenth time to the folds of my backseat, it’s moments like these, when it’s just me and the open road, that draw me to the bend up ahead. Gripping the Jeep’s steering wheel doesn’t just feel powerful. It feels like possibility.