Sunday, November 19, 2006

Riding on I-70

I spent 4 hours on I-70 yesterday, driving to and from Jefferson City. Time alone in a car, listening to Slaid Cleave and similar country-tinged music through mid-Missouri, headed to a meeting full of people and issues from a prior life - it all provokes rumination on a stretch of road I've spent so many hours traveling on - I-70 between St. Louis and Kansas City.

I remember driving the first car we bought - a $200 1973 Dodge Dart Swinger Special with a bullet hole in the windshield - and stopping at Nickerson Farms in High Hill along the way to take pictures of our so-youthful selves on the hood.

I remember trips during law school days to come up and interview with firms for jobs. Driving in a new wool suit, white shirt, burgundy tie. I thought I knew what I wanted, and I thought I was driving toward it.

I remember swinging up to the Huston Tavern in Arrow Rock for a meal at the on the way back to St. Louis for my father's funeral, and I remember my sister being with us. This could be one of those tricks that memory plays, though, since I'm sure she was with her husband at the funeral. Regardless, I remember the sense of quiet spiritual nourishment from the delay and distraction before we continued on to face the rest of it.

Mostly, though, I remember a trip on the Fourth of July when Ali was a little girl. We drove back from St. Louis at night, and, as we drove through the plains east of Columbia, dozens of little towns on the horizon were setting off their fireworks displays. It was other-worldly, to see the blooms of light all around us - small from the distance, but more touching for their isolation. No up-close extravaganza will ever mean as much to me as seeing all those small displays of pride in America, shared with my little girl. It bordered on the unbelievable, and was a memory I will have forever, and she mentioned it not too long ago as one of her fond memories. Fireworks viewed from I-70 on a Fourth of July night years ago with my daughter - it's the sort of thing I never expected and didn't seek, but you never can tell what that stretch of highway will imprint on the rest of your life.


Blogger Spyder said...

Years ago while driving home to Quebec, Canada, on 4th of July, I got to see the fireworks of Detroit. I was alone and on the highway 75. I'm always nervous when I hit Detroit for many reasons. I worry that I'll miss my exit and end up somewhere lost. I worry about getting to the border and there will be some kind of issue that I can't deal with. I'm get excited because I'm getting closer to my family & home. Thanks Dan for reminding me of that memory.

11/19/2006 12:29 PM  
Anonymous travelingal said...

Lovely story. It made me remember the time my husband and I and our baby were driving in the middle of the night in a rural area of Minnesota when we got the rare treat of seeing the northern lights. We stopped the car in awe and just watched the glory of the night sky around us. I hadn't thought of that night for many years until I read your post, Dan. Thank you.

11/20/2006 6:37 AM  

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