Tuesday, September 2, 2014

East

"What are we doing here at the gas station? Why are we filling the tank?"

The morning was just starting to light up. The lady at the counter at the gas station was barely awake. She grumpily handed East the cash change. He said to her, "Hey, thanks. Have a fantastic day, young woman."

I swear she said fuck off under her breath, but East wasn't looking. He had turned back towards me, walked to the car and was checking the back boot to ensure it was locked. He seemed in a resolute mood. What in the world is this guy up to?

"Hey man, what are we doing? Are we going somewhere?"

"Are we going somewhere? Mate, are we going somewhere..."

He got in the car and revved up the engine. And then he killed the engine again as I opened my mouth to complain. He turned to me, and I held back my words – I was going to say, Oi you nut case, whatever the hell you're up to, I want to know what I am doing!

He looked at me for a couple of seconds and then looked out at the road that laid out in front of us. The gas station seemed like the only habitation for miles and miles. No sign of life. No sign of movement, except the wind that brushed up a few strands of dust now and then. Even the lady at the counter had disappeared inside.

"We are going on a journey. You and I."

"A journey?"

"Yeah, a journey. A road trip."

"Ok, that's a start. That makes sense why you're filling up the gas tank." I replied slowly trying not to sound impatient and annoyed, "Are you going to tell me where we are going?"

"It will be a significant road. Your life will change. We will pass Wisconsin. We will drive past the majestic grand canyons. We will drop in and say hello to the folks of New Jersey. We will also drive up to Michigan, I have a few errands I want you to run along lake towns. We will then hop out of the country briskly to Montreal, and then drive back down to Georgia to watch the dry towns bleak in the noon sun. We will also check out the Rockies, man, have you seen the Rockies this time of the year? You'll love it."

"But I don't want to see Wisconsin. I don't want to see Wyoming. I don't want to go to Montreal. I don't even want to see the Rockies! What's in there for me? I want to go back home and sleep in my bed. To wake up and have coffee at the Berty's Cafe with my friends, and then do nothing all day, go to bed and wake up the next day to do it all again..."

"The sights of the mountains will forgive your sins. The open highways will chisel you. The cliffs you hang off will make you fight stronger. Your friends, your parties, your sports, your antics in this old town, they will always be there for you – or they won't be. You don't know. They don't matter. I've got things to show you... a bigger country. You can huddle up here and sit in a small town remorse and self pity – or the open road invites you."

"It's not like I have a choice, do I? I am here in your truck now. I don't know my way back. You've filled up the tank. Where can I run away to from here?"

"You do have a choice. You can jump out and stand on the highway and stick your thumb out and hitchhike your way back to your house. Or you can try and walk back. What you've left behind is just around the corner – it's never far. But I've brought you here because I want you to see that open landscape in front of you. I want you to hear the hills that are blue on the horizon call to you."

"Are we escaping life then? Is this escapism?"

"No we are not escaping life. We are diving headlong into life. If life is an ocean, we are diving headlong into the blue. If life is a highway, we are filling the tank up and revving up the engine to start on this roadtrip."

He looked away for a while. I looked away too. The blue hills far across the distance trembled slightly in the summer heat wave.

East asked me again, "Do you want to go?"

"Yes. I want to go."

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