Monday, September 5, 2011

the way home

When you ride your bike across the country and you fly home, there's a sense of undoing. You sit with your forehead against the window of the plane and your throat tightens as you look down. A retrospective moment of fear at the cracks and crinkles of mountains as you think of what could have gone wrong, but didn't. From here the vastness and the void are greater. For a month now, this Wallace Stevens line has danced in your head: "the nothing that is." On the road you knew it from your maps and from the miles that passed between things, but you could only see so much. From above, there is the occasional cluster of a town between roads you can barely see that thread themselves through the fissures, across the flatness, and that wind up the hills. On the road, towns in the east and midwest announced themselves with a water tower on the horizon. Out west, riding the interstate, you would do your best to estimate when the next exit sign would appear according to mileage signs and your vague sense of speed. There was never a promise that a western town would have anything to offer, making the anticipation less, noncommittal. Mile markers ticked away and you would hope for an underpass to lend some shade. The plane feels like cheating. You wonder if you'll ever feel so grounded, so in the thick of something again.

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