A small part of a great conversation the other night, my friend Paul talked about how much he enjoyed driving across Texas when he worked as a college recruiter. The therapy which can be purchased for a tank of unleaded gasoline, a decent radio station, and those white lines stretching out as far as the eye can see should not be quickly dismissed.
The destination is unimportant for a trip like this. It’s the process, the getting there, without having to continually check for a map or keep your eyes peeled for an exit. You’re not in the car to get somewhere. You’re in the car to work stuff out.
My favorite “thinking drive” was back in Arkansas.
I’d take off from my parents’ house up Highway 60 and across the Toad Suck bridge, the Arkansas River dark and serpentine beneath the spinning tires of my pickup. I’d roll down the windows and crank out the Black Crowes, or Pearl Jam, or Miles Davis or Waterdeep as I’d zip into Perry County, past the small communities of Bigelow and New Dixie.
Past my landmarks of Hutch Auctions and the small trailer where my grandmother goes to get her hair styled.
Past the blood red and off-white wooden steeple of St. Boniface and on into downtown Houston, population 246.
Past the “Peace Baby” building, a low brick and wood building with a concrete stoop and that epitaph spray painted on the front door. I later learned the building had been the bank there at Houston. It looks like it would’ve made a good target for Bonnie and Clyde.
And flipping a u-turn in the parking lot of small country store which probably stocked the stink bait next to the potted meat, I’d make my way back home.
I might have driven that route 100 times or more in the span of a few short years with everything on my mind from a half-Japanese girl named Sharon to rerun high school memories to my own shaky faith.
I’ve taken friends and family on my drive to “show” them, in hopes they might recognize something special about the path. But I rarely got much in the way of comment at all, other than a request to stop by Wal-Mart on the way home.
I haven’t been able to recreate the drive here in Texas. I’m just not sure where to go. Too many of the roads here actually go somewhere. I imagine I’ll find one someday. And until then, I can take comfort in the fact that I haven’t needed a road like that as much lately, for what it’s worth.
But I’m still thankful those roads are there… going nowhere… leaving me time and space for the journey.
So here’s my lonesome road CD mix for July 28th.
- “At least I got a car” – Waterdeep
- “Key to the Highway” – Little Walter Jacobs
- “Faith My Eyes” – Caedmon’s Call
- “Life is a Highway” – Tom Cochrane
- “Drive” – REM
- “Seeing Things” – Black Crowes
- “Home” – Marc Broussard
- “Freedom of the Road” – Martin Sexton
- “Razor Light” – Waterdeep
- “Alive” – Pearl Jam
- “Driver 8” – REM
- “Running Down a Dream” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- “If I Had a Boat” – Lyle Lovett
- “Eternal Life” – Jeff Buckley
- “Pink Moon” – Nick Drake
- “Bothered” – Over The Rhine
- “Crossroad Blues” – Robert Johnson
- “Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues” – Skip James
- “Just Got To Be” – The Black Keys
- “40 Acres” – Caedmon’s Call
- “Johnny’s Camaro” – David Wilcox
- “Scar Tissue” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- “Gulf of Mexico” – Shawn Mullins
- “Speak” – Nickel Creek
- And anything by Ryan Adams, Hank Sr. or The Jayhawks