I can’t disagree. During my many drives across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, I’ve had many hours in which to think. Days, really, in which to think. I’ve made the ten, eleven—sometimes even twelve—hour journey twenty times, which means I’ve had 220 hours to think. Over nine days. 792,000 seconds in which to make a choice. A life-altering decision. A split-second decision.
It isn’t always easy to come to a conclusion; not when I’m distracted by speeding SUVs driven by individuals who believe that the size of their car makes up for their driving skills.
Everyone I pass—everyone who passes me—is in a world. An enclosed bubble, a casing of metal and fiberglass. As we speed up, slow down, maneuver around and between one another, we cross bubbles. We intersect and, if only briefly, imagine the other person’s life. We see them—we see her singing, him talking, a child’s feet on the dash. Some sleep, others pay heed only to the pavement.
That moment—the moment where our worlds almost collide—reminds of the panopticon. I have all those in my sight—in my mirrors, in front of me, next to me. I see everything that passes me; everything that heads toward me. I see the woman behind me putting on lipstick, the man passing me on his phone. I see map readers and GPS followers and pointers and talkers and sleepers.
Likewise, they see me watching them; they see me singing to the radio, singing and bopping and dancing and pretending that no one can watch, that no one can hear. For a brief moment, our eyes meet—a wink, a smile, a smirk. Our minds connect, simultaneously wandering, simultaneously seeking the other person’s task and destination. All that separates us are a few inches of manufactured shell, and the white, dashed lines that I see reflecting in the veneer of car door.
Wsoosphf. Wsoosphf Wsoosphf Wsoosphf Wsoosphf.
The frequency of the lines increase, its reflections partnered and shiny.
I pass a car from Alaska, one with a bike rack. How would our worlds collide if we were to crash?
I think of these things, these things and more, when I drive. I think of displacement. I think of how, in my first night back at the apartment, I woke up and believed that I was in my hometown, in my mother’s house. My eyes were closed, but I believed I was in my bed, my queen-sized, low-to-the-ground mattress. I believed my computer was just around the corner, waiting for me and my day’s online excursions.
When I did open my eyes, I confused by the abundant sunshine. The bedroom door, and not an entertainment center, stood at the foot of the bed. My computer was rooms away, down the hallway and on the dining room table. I was confused.
I was not in Iowa.
On the road, I wondered about my bearings, wondered about displacement. At the time of my waking, I had been confused as to where I was, confused as to what I could do. Maybe it’s because you’re in an alternate reality; maybe it’s somehow connected with what you dreamed or imagined.
The feeling was real; therefore, I cannot dispute that alternate realities are not.
My mind is jolted from its own rambling by a radio program titled “Trading Post.” Listeners call in and describe needed items, wanted items. One woman requests bales of hay. A man describes his 2500-watt generator. An elderly woman comments on the bikes she is offering for sale. “Trading Post! What’cha got for us?” the deejay greets each caller. “I’ve got a…,” “I need a…,” “I’m selling my…” Pitches, sales, bargains.
The items requested and advertised grow in size and price as I continue on the Illinois Interstate, passing signs advertising Guns Save Life.
Roses are Red My Gun is Blue I Am Safe How About You?
I shake my head, shudder at both the concept and the rhyme.
I glance to the south, notice a lake of frost. It glazes the empty field, reflects the clouds like Salar de Uyuni. It looks like water. Like a lake. Like an ocean of sparkling crystals. Expansive and glittering, a mirror, a pool. I am amazed at how the frozen deadness of agriculture illuminates the morning.
I continue west, chasing time, chasing sunlight. The sunrise had been so beautiful in my rearview mirror, a glow of orange and red and yellow before clouds encased and swallowed it.
It gets darker. Cloudier. I drive and drive. Drive and think and wonder about realities, about the lives of those with whom I briefly interact, about my own life, about the unknown.