Many Miles Before I Sleep

I think better on the freeway. There’s something about the familiar, steady lines of asphalt for miles that makes me okay, makes me at home. I think about movement and change. I think about time. Sometimes I think about death. Maybe it’s Joan Rivers and Robin Williams. One was old but went unexpectedly; the other was young yet and chose to take his own life, with a leather belt around his neck at home in Marin. So I think about mortality and election. If I chose a way to go, wouldn’t the freeway be the most fitting? It’s my freedom place, a constant in my life since before I was born, and a pretty quick way to go. If we were to choose such morbid things as these, would it change anything? Would we live more peacefully, or more fully? Or would we be more afraid of death? If you choose your time, does it make you cowardly or confident? Is it fair any way around it? But then I shudder at even the thought. There’s no dignity in any death. And as for roadway deaths, it’s a sickening reality that the most common way to go is in a split second of driving mistakes. When I was a kid in Washington state, I once thought my mom was in a fatal car accident. I was on a ski trip and heard the grown ups talking about a wreck in the same place my mom had dropped me off that morning. Sick to my heart, I held in my panic for hours. My mommy was just fine when we got home, but I had already developed a severe separation anxiety. I was convinced for years after that every car accident would turn out to be someone I loved. (Perhaps that’s why I became a certified EMT years later; I wanted to protect my loved ones with any strength I had.) There’s such a terrible beauty to anything dangerous. Henry Ford and Ike would be appalled at the freeway accident statistics today, yet we still thrive on bigger and better, faster and faster. But that’s where my familiar comfort lies, in the blurred lights and flowing miles of the freeway. If anything’s home, it’s the driver’s seat on the road in the wee hours of the morning. So here I am on the freeway just the same, because for all its danger, it’s still a comfort zone. I just pray for many more miles.

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