I traveled to the Hamptons on Saturday night. It's not fun anymore, going outside the city. What used to be an adventure now feels like a commute.
Slide that key into the ignition. Throttle the engine. Whip around curves, through crowded, nighttime borough streets, into that final tunnel separating Manhattan from the world that isn’t New York City. Look out the window? Soon. I’m so anxious to emerge into the morning light on the other side. But now the tunnel is longer and darker. How much is left? The morning gets here so fast now. There seems to be such little time to enjoy the ride. I remember enjoying the travel. No more.
My weekly summer excursions once offered so much to chat about. Outside the windows of my rental (It’s always a rental. I’ll never own this), captivating memories were sparked by rural, roadside attractions. Blurs except for a few crystalline still shots where suddenly everything freezes and I can explore the entire landscape: cow, green hill, apple tree, farmer, red barn, and then everything blurs until the roadside minutiae sparks the memory once more. Turn on the radio? Soon. And another tale from the road is spun from a delicate thread which always snaps before the trip is over. I can’t help but cringe as days following I see a manic explorer running from cow to hill to tree to farmer to barn, reveling in each to his own amusement. I see the moment that thread unravels. When the end approaches and it’s time to drive home.
Turn on the radio. Flip the dial to AM/PM, any tune played once sent me into a finger snapping fit of karaoke worthy mimicry. Now it's just the incessant buzz of radio static. I need to get some sleep. I’m flipping that dial, static, and static, and static. I can’t stop flipping channels. The further I drive, the less there is to listen to. I guess.
So I sit there in the driver’s seat and watch the gas go from full to empty. Once the trip has finished, when the sun is high in the sky and I’m low to the ground, I see my wheel marks. I didn’t go anywhere. I’ve driven a sooty black circle for hours and hours. Let’s listen to the radio again. And following, I sleep until the early afternoon, exhausted from a night now spent scrutinizing my fuel bar, instead of enjoying the journey. It used to not be this way. Or was I fooling myself, enchanted by that beautiful scenery, the radio, the conversation?
It’s a restless sleep. I sleep with my eyes half closed, half open, sweating in my Brooklyn apartment with the air conditioner on full blast. And I have a fitful dream of grinding those gears again, spinning wheels against a highway made of sand next weekend.