Backroads Driver, by Charles Carreon
[Every generation thinks it is special. Apocalypse is always in vogue. When you can't make the world work, you hope it all goes to hell in a handbasket, because then you'll be no worse off than anyone else. Call it anarchist's revenge. When I was a young man, my friends and I lit out for the hills of Southern Oregon, in hopes of finding skinny-dipping, long summer days and big blue skies, easy living, milk and honey, no need for money. You can bet we didn't find it. No, instead we found shoddy living accommodations, bad roads, hostile neighbors and pickups, I mean people who would shoot bear for God's sake. On the other hand, you might see a mountain lion, certainly bobcat, and the coyotes could drive you plumb deaf when a big full moon came rising up behind Pilot Rock like a spotlight illuminating the entire valley. So it was mystical. So were we.]
Pretty much like the rest of the earth.
Dirt, trees, grass and sky. Clouds that come and go.
Wind blowing. In the morning, birds sing. Sometimes,
at night, coyotes howl. Later on, I will say things
more specific, but you should remember this, that it is
not different, not in any important way. What is really
important is how much it is the same as other places.
The road is bad. Most people will say this. I do not
say it is bad until winter turns it into three miles of
churned shit, but late at night it can wear me out. But
it is the boundary line, the essential demarcation
between town energy and country energy. When your tires
hit the paved road something clicks in your body -- you
accelerate the car and shift into third. Down the road
a mile, the mailbox may have something in it, then onward
to the business in town.
That night, when your tires roll off the pavement onto the
rough, uneven gravel of Colestine road, something in your
body is released. As your headlights illuminate the
winding road and the underbranches of the trees, as you
downshift into second to keep the washboard from ripping
the wheels off your car, you enter a different zone.
The zone of the backwoods driver. Drive on.