There’s a clicking noise to my left.
Someone’s phone is unabashedly interrupting the non-silence.
It’s a different language, with perhaps a handful of English words jumbled into the overall prattle.
And all the while, a line of red lights is stretched before me, dotting the darkness like a landing strip for arriving planes.
Despite being surrounded by strangers, there is a familiarity to this. The crooked positioning of my neck, the gentle to sudden force of an unknown foot tapping overworked breaks – even the lighting. Shades of yellow and green leave playful sepia tones on the quiet faces of the resting and restless.
I feel both very old and very young when traveling on the road at night.
Forgotten moments of childhood creep into my mind with the passing miles. There are memories of cassette tapes and CD players, or bumpy highways that made your nose itch while napping on the seat of a bus. The oncoming wave of white headlights brings an oncoming wave of longings you’d hoped for as 14-year-old sitting in the backseat of your parent's SUV. “Where are you going to go?”
Some of these dreams have undeniably already been dashed, while other ideas are only just blossoming into full-fledged possibilities, as countless as the white lights on the opposite stretch of highway.
And maybe I only feel old because I so acutely remember being young. Late night drives and summer evenings with the windows down take me back to something previously enjoyed – though in fact, this phenomenon is still quite relevant! I can still smile at the darkness with breezy curls wrapped mercilessly around my head, laughing at God only knows what. I can still obtain that feeling of being infinite, stretching myself over the open road, eager as a shadow at dusk.
We drive through the night for a reason.
We travel through obscurity for a cause.
We are determined.
To get somewhere, to do something, to be near someone – whatever your reason, we are determined to accomplish a task. Whether that goal is to beat boredom or to complete a far nobler mission, there is a purpose non-the-less.
I like having a purpose, or at least an objective. I like chasing taillights and watching for the oncoming headlights of something great. I even enjoy spotting resurfaced ideas once lost on the road long ago.
And most importantly... I like driving through the night to touch both the present and past in one accelerated motion towards what’s to come and what might be.