Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reflections: Road Trip

The past week has been a hectic one, centered on getting my oldest daughter properly supplied, packed, and transported, to begin her freshman year of college. This involved a 1500 mile round-trip, by car, over the course of three days, with the setting up of a dorm room sandwiched between the two all-day driving sessions. Then, at the end of it all, you find yourself at home, minus the presence of a loved one who has been one of the central focuses of your life for the past 18 years. It isn’t quite the “empty nest” syndrome yet, since she has a sister a year behind her. But there remains a gaping hole, nonetheless.

My good friend, Jim, who has only one daughter, and went through this a couple of years ago, tells me that he’s still adjusting to it. And then he tells me that you hear from them most often when they’re unhappy. Talk about the proverbial rock and the ubiquitous hard place.

All complaining and lamenting aside, the drive through the hills and mountains of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts is a particularly beautiful one. Even driving through Connecticut and New Jersey at night, on the way back, provided some sinister beauty. You are speeding along dimly-lit elevated highways, through cityscapes resembling scenes once envisioned in futuristic film noir. Towering edifices, like alien monuments edged in twinkling lights, loom up out of an absolute darkness, as though projected by the eerie, greenish-blue light reflected from their massive planes, deeply etched by the angular dance of jet black shadows. Where the highway passes over human dwellings, made visible by ordinary street lights, it is impossible to imagine the lives of the people who live within such ancient wooden frame structures. None of it seems real.

Back now, in humdrum Ohio, in a house with an empty bedroom, surrounded by a large lawn which needs tending regardless of the end-of-summer heat wave, perhaps there will be some consolation in resuming the daily reading which the distractions of the past week have made nearly impossible?