Saturday, June 18, 2016
June 18, 2016 was the perfect day to drive through the country side in western Illinois. The sky was bright blue and spotted with clouds. The sun beamed from above shedding light to the country side. The temperature was cozy with a warm summer breeze to blow off the thin layer of perspiration that coated your skin. The day was comfortable but the humidity made it warm. I never check just how humid it was because I never needed to. It was just enough to notice but not to bother, which for my tolerance is a low thresh hold. The day was perfect so I did what many people did on such a day: go out for a drive. That's not to say I enjoy long drives, anything over a few hours makes me anxious and eager to be released to the outside world. I didn't have a deeply root love for the union between man and machine on black top, rather personal understanding with the mechanical beast at my finger prints. It was made to take me where I needed to be and I needed to be somewhere. I do enjoy it, however, when I can fall into the brain dead stasis of highway hypnosis. While many try to fill that time with productivity, I take it for myself. Leave the work and thinking for the destination, the journey is mine. It is mine to feel the wind whipping at my face. It is mine to immerse myself in the beautiful landscape. It is mine to grasp the leather covered wheel at my finger tips. It is mine to listen to the rhythms and harmonies of my music and sing to my hearts content. I love these journeys that allow me these freedoms while I ride alone in my mother's small Honda Civic. I was a mere casual however to those who took the rode for themselves. Those who drove for drivings sake. These were people who came out with their motorbikes, how they chopped through the air, breaking it with their burning engines and blasting pipes. Usually in small groups, they rode together. When a woman was with them, they would either wrap their arms around their man in the back seat or ride with the group, asserting their spot to ride. Their bravado was superseded only by the muscle car, salvaged or maintained, and their predecessors the sports car. The muscle car roared down the road asserting its dominance and reminding the world of a time when gasoline was the least of anyone's concerns. The gleaming beauties pronounced their owners love for them with their polished sides and perfect colors. The sports cars made their presence known by cutting through the air like a chain saw breaking wood. their blasted down the roads, riding low and hard. Each driver pulling out their best ride to show off their money and style. I couldn't blame them. If I had the money, I'd do it too. Alas, I was a casual. Those like me drove because there was somewhere they had to be and drove their simple cars because they either had no reason to show off or couldn't. I saw no problem with that. I was content in that Civic. It was petite, efficient, and private. It had served my family faithfully for years, undertaking thousands of miles for us and not once breaking down. I was happy with it. It was taking me where I needed to go: to my girl. She lived out among farms and small towns deep in central Illinois and I always think of her when I see them. I used to not care for farm lands. I'd see them all the time and felt no sense of wonder or awe. On that trip, however, each glorious view brought beauty to my eye. As I drove through the rolling hills, I'd dip down, my eyes level with the crops such that the green a few yards away was my horizon and endless blue reached out beyond. I'd reach a peak and see the rolling hill quilted over with square farms that were hand stitched with roads, broken by rivers, and speckled with buildings. I would see charming farm houses, proud barns, and gleaming domed silos and elevators that made the rural skyscraper. The view was amazing but not perfect. Not yet. The farms told me I was closer than I had been, but the hills told me I was still too far. She lived on flat lands where wind erosion was required farmers to boarder their farms with tree lines. As she would say in her grand tour of the farms around her, "to your right, you'll see corn fields. To your left, you'll see a tree line covering corn fields." The hills were beautiful but they reminded me that I still had ground to cover and roads to travel.