Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Long Ride


The headlights faintly shined upon the pitch black roadway as he stared out the large tinted window five rows back from the front door. The tires whirled a steady drone down Interstate 77 toward Charleston, West Virginia. Reflective mirror images flashed black upon the riders as they drifted into impermanent and restless sleep.

Brief stops dotted the long, scenic trip through the quiet downtown streets of Marietta, Ohio with its quaint architecture that led them into desolate Parkersburg as Tuesday turned into Wednesday.

On the opposite side of the four lane, which turned into a two lane, then transitioned into an unknown Main Street, before rolling back onto the next four lane were buses, trucks and cars coming toward him, beginning as miniscule beams that grew into large ghostly headlights. In an instant, the Greyhound was in the same dimensional plane of each oncoming vehicle before exiting, leaving behind two disappearing red tail lights fading into the milky, dreamy, and wet fog coated darkening night.

The smell of the coach was that of a thousand mysterious and unknown lives fused into the vinyl seat covers, the rubber of the aisle mats, and the metal and plastic materials that formed into the old, tarnished interior skin throughout the worn insides of the cavernous vehicle.

He entered into, and then exited billions upon billions of moments in time all occupying specific spots on Earth, where people built towns, villages and cities lined with streets, sidewalks, alleys, lanes, churches, schools, and shops. And, as the bus passed into, and then drove away from the nearby spaces filled by strangers watching it from the outside, they, too, were also doing the same fleeting thing. We were all coming and going simultaneously.

The road ahead was hard to see as the street lamps illuminated the moving fog. He rode into Charleston silently without awakening a soul. Front porch lamps lit unintentional welcomes; then were left behind without anyone knowing. Lighted plastic signs on banks or gas stations guarded closed and locked doors.

The road suddenly turned into the early morning darkness as he moved away from the last place toward the next one. “Freedom Homes” and “84 Lumber” billboards became the new gateway with old blackened steel and vine covered railroad trestles arching above the highway entrance ramp routing him on, then off paving the way to his subsequent destination. This never ending series of “to’s and from’s” led him to his final destination where he would continue to enter and exit from newly experienced places occupying a particular time before moving on toward the next.

Time became noticeably linear passing from a single moment into another single moment like a long string of beads being place upon an endless thread. As one bead was placed upon the thread, a bead was left behind no longer in the present, but now realized as being left in the past just as a new one was dropped onto it.

The old moment enriching and impacting the next formed an endlessly expanding picture layered by lifelong fluid droplets of time. 

A single overhead light shined upon a mother and sleeping child sitting across the aisle within the cavernous body of the motor coach. He, and the others, traveled in single file behind other motorists entering and exiting the same spots before separating from the anonymous line of travelers.

He left Bluefield, West Virginia and the small drop-off station then chased a hazy crested moon back onto Interstate 77 South lighting the opening to a mile long mountain tunnel leaving where he had just been only to be greeted, on the other side, by a sign identifying where he was headed.