Thursday, August 9, 2007

The game of hooky

I took the afternoon off -- and all tomorrow too -- in order to drive at my leisure around Central Arkansas showing off the sites to my visitor. And while driving over the bridge at Toad Suck Ferry Locks and Dam, on our way to Perryville, I was seized with the joy of independent mobility.

It's been a long time since I learned to drive at 16 and first got that intoxicating whiff of freedom that comes from being able to go from point A to point B under your own power. Even better than getting to point B, of course, was to decide mid-journey that you wanted to go to point C instead. The sense of autonomy is almost overwhelming. One is suddenly an independent agent in the world, and the vast network of roads are all possibilities.

The interstate used to feel that way to me -- I felt like a faux-adult guiding my Buick Skyhawk down I-24 whenever I got to drive home by myself from high school -- but now wide, access-controlled highways feel constraining. The scenery rarely changes, and the sweeping gentle turns and topology-blasting straightaways make me feel that the interstate is driving me, rather than the other way around.

No, what feels like freedom now is the two-lane state highway, where the cruise control is not an option. Turns can be sharp, and you have to plan ahead for them. Sudden dips in the road can make your stomach drop if taken at full speed. The roadside is so close, and changes so often, and speeds by so fast that you feel like you're really going someplace even though your velocity is less than on an interstate.

In other words, this is an arena where one feels more alive, less like a traffic blip on somebody's robot-controlled radar. The choices have returned -- the freedom is palpable. Put me on a state highway, and I'm ready to take off and go until I run out of gas, just to see where I might get to.

I've resisted being assigned to many recruiting trips more than an hour away from Conway, using as my excuse that I need to stay near home in order to have regular hours with my family. But the powerful abandon I've begun to feel on these roads makes me think I might accept some farther-flung appointments, just to experience that rush of freedom, adulthood, the vast panorama of possibilities a few more times.


Jenn said...

That was always one of the joys of driving to Harrison from Conway--the twisty, turny, windy roads. I love driving on curvy roads, while the interstate from Conway to Fayetteville is a tad boring, except when you start going into the hills and the trees are all golden and red. Then it's pretty cool.

Steph said...

I'd been pretty much away from the web and thus blogs for about 3 weeks (traveling) and really missed UTC! Its been great fun reading them all at once this morning and catching up.

I saw Noel & Co. in San Francisco Bread yesterday and thought, I feel so out of the loop, I don't even know what deep things Archer and Cady Gray are saying/doing these days.

I was particularly impressed with the double patterns and the multiple Archers! He is a very profound little boy.

Blog on, sister! It's great to be reading you again.


Adam Villani said...

(rubs hands together) Ahhh, Donna. Let me introduce you to the wonders of roadgeekery!

Yeah, the interstates are good from getting you from point A to point B, but you're right, you need to get off of the freeway to really see America.

Monday night I went on an impromptu overnight trip around the desert, getting a hotel through Hotwire in Palm Desert and then spending Tuesday driving all around some of the forgotten backroads of the Colorado desert. Hiking, too - even more scenic, but REALLY, REALLY HOT.

Anyway, yeah, I am totally into the roadtrip for the sake of roadtrips.

Adam Villani said...

"Colorado Desert" meaning the desert by that name that's in California and Arizona, not any desert in Colorado.