people don't seem to care,
they just keep on lookin' to the East"--old Doobie Brothers song
When I was 26, I had a maroon Colt Vista, a strange station wagon that pretended it was a mini-van. On Sundays, in lieu of church at the Mesquite methodist church where the congregation seemed to have settled into the afterlife right in their pews, I'd take myself for long drives.
I first went down country highways I knew. Then, as soon as possible, I deviated onto little farm to market roads. My rule was simple--make each turn a turn down a roadway I had not been down before. I'd drive along the country highways, gasping at fields of flowers, rural churches or failing barns from a different day. I always meant to take pictures, and have scrapbooks of a passing moment. But I never did.
I'd listen to "Praire Home Companion" on the radio, and completely relax from the stress that was my work week. I had no real goal in these drives, other than to find some rest, and see the world around me as if every little country place held a world of possibility.
Although I tried to stay on paved roads, once I got deeply stuck in a muddy lane. A man and his son, on dirt bike motorcycles, happened by. They spent a good bit of time helping me get my car out of the mud. They declined my offer of payment when we had done so.
I've taken many restorative drives in the succeeding years,
winding through the Angeles National Forest, or whiling away time in rural Collin County prairie lanes. I've seen a bit of the wide world since those days. But I do not remember experiencing wonder as completely as I did on those drives.
Lately, I find my journal a bit more inward-obsessed than I wish it to be. I want to recapture that sense of driving past decaying barns, and imagining I had discovered America.