In all this time I have waited for the King of Pop to finish telling me his story. He whispers it to me in his high falsetto and I nod like a worried mother, his confidante, the only one who understands.

And meanwhile, in another world entirely, my own unworried mother contemplates the road. The long, unfolding route of U.S. Highways, marked by the shield. That shield known for protecting who? From what? Maybe a traveler is safer on the county roads, denoted only by circles and alpha-numeric combinations known only to a group of wheezing delegates from the regional municipal council of working groups for the purpose of transportation distinguification. They met every other Thursday for the better part of a year and by God it made sense to them, and it still does- if anyone would listen.

So there go the words, like blobs of pollenated snot blasted out of the left nostril then the right by means of the farmer’s handkerchief. Slung out the window of the car onto the shoulder of Marion County 318 or 25A, or Athens County 550 that runs out to The Plains. No matter what route you take it is going to be tough to get there from here because these Interstate Highways, they sure did unite us, but they divided some of us too, and some of us know better than to cross them.

6 Responses to and…breathe!

  1. Yeah, the big interstates have managed to divide us, taking us to hubs, just like the airlines do, that are miles and miles out of our way as the crow flies. They’ve stolen our scenery, too, with one route looking eerily like another — all those exits and ramps and signs for services that are the same whether you’re in Ohio or Georgia. There’s something else they’ve taken from us, and it’s harder to see but much more important. They’ve stolen a part of our souls, the thing that makes a journey more meaningful than a who-can-get-there-first race to the finish. No more “Chew Mail Pouch” on listing barns, no little restaurants with local color and waitresses who call you “Hon.” Here in W.Va., there’s a huge road project known as Corridor H that will allow drivers to soar over the mountains at 75 mph rather than take the winding roads with hairpin curves as you follow a truck laden with timber or coal. Its actual route is U.S. Route 40, but folks who live nearby just called it the Big Road. I like that. Everyone understands that the Big Road is not their road, not the way home. It’s just a way for people to get across the mountains without really seeing them except in a blur that races past their windows.

  2. Fckin’ interstates indeed. About 25 years ago I went back to the neighborhood in Cincinnati where I grew up. An interstate (I-74) had been run through right next door, obliterating an entire row of houses and another entire neighborhood nearby where I had played baseball, gone swimming and sled-riding, gone for burgers, the whole bit. That row of houses? I had spent time in them all and knew the people who lived in them. All that’s left of them now is a chain-link fence and a 40-foot drop to the highway. But it’s all good, because now you can shoot right through town without even slowing down. And I’m sure the previous property owners were well compensated for their loss.

  3. The interstate is so close to my house with a nice easy exit and entrance and everything and still, I drive the backroad to town, mostly.
    Your mama!

  4. What is really unfair is that you can be tooling along on a nice old blue highway and, whoops, it suddenly runs concurrently for, say, 8 miles, with a major interstate, and always just 10 miles south of a city, and at 5:00 pm in the rain. No warning. Just HELLO MOMMA.

  5. About a million years ago, my Granddad had land here in T-town. Acreage tacked onto the back of his house that rolled and sprawled. My Mom and Uncles roamed via horses and dune buggies, fished the little ponds. I-10 was put in about 100 yards behind the house, cleanly that property’s head from its body. Now a trip to the “backyard” required a 3-4 mile round the way drive on old dirt roads. In a fit of aggravation and anger, my Granddad sold the body of land out of frustration. These days, we call that body of land, Hobby Lobby, Bonefish Grille, and fair part of it, Killearn.