Monday, June 11, 2007

With apologies to all things green


Some folks I know rue the century of their births and wish they'd been hatched in another, more exotic era. I know more than one person who longs to have lived among the petticoats and railroads of the nineteenth century and others who'd have chosen to be deposited somewhere European in the age of chivalry or upon the isles of the ancient philosophers. With the acknowledgement that every century dispenses its fair share of bloodshed and atrocities, plagues and tyrants, I'm quite happy to have been born of the twentieth century: the century of highways and radio. I often wonder, as I did yesterday while landscapes morphed from hills to plains and favorite songs on my ipod provided a custom "the hills are alive" soundtrack as my gas guzzling car sped west, at what deep pleasure I would have missed had I lived before the advent of cars and highways on which to fly them. I have crisscrossed the country at various times in my life, alone and untethered to anything but the road rolling out before me in all manner of exotic locales. It was in my car that I fell in love with the expanse that is America. In what prior century could a woman safely and freely devour thousands of whatever miles she chose, ingesting mountains, beaches, prairies and badlands for merely the cost of the gas in her car? I find supreme pleasure in speed and wind resistance. Good: bikes, skates, parasailing. Better: cars, sailboats, waterskis, snowskis, snowmobiles, atvs, motorcycles, horseback. But a road trip offers the longest dose of wind in your face as well as an altered sense of proportion and distance, and ongoing discovery. The road has taught me much about myself, my place in time, the opportunities I take for granted and what it took to achieve them.

The pleasure of the open road remains but is tinted now with perpetual guilt amassed from what unnecessary travel costs the environment to the direction of world events involving fuel. Who knows what curtailment of optional travel might arise in this twenty-first century due to gas prices, gas shortages, global warming, terrorism, etc. Hitting the road whenever you feel like it might one day become the very thing that provokes someone in a distant time to grow misty for a century they can only wish they'd inhabited.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

I'm pretty "green," but I still think road trips with music are essential.