Strips of concrete, lined down the middle in bright white and yellow, to keep us all in our places, rolling down the road, passing other families and singles and grandparents heading home, cars packed with lugagge, a sad looking middle-aged man driving an empty rusty sedan with the windows cracked to let out the constant trail of his cigarette smoke, packed minivans with three tiny car seats Elmo playing on a tiny screen speeding across the miles, all of us right next each other but also entirely alone in our own bubbles. Listening to the radio, rolling across the miles and highways and towns and states.
Casey's General Store, the Kum and Go, Conoco, McDonalds, BP, DQ, all flashing lights and greasy 10 minute fuel. Big rig drivers pump their air brakes to slow down to exit for the night. Sleeping in their cabs after a quick shower and piece of pie after dinner. We stop for gas or drinks, back in the car after stretching our legs, eyes glazed over from the miles and the stale air, making good time, reaching our destination. Keeping on track with home in mind, playing someone else's story to make our time trapped in the car speed by faster. While somehow living our own story at the same time.
The last hour feels the longest. Driving past the empty amusement park, the darkened shadows of hulking roller coasters still make my stomach flutter like a little kid. Remembering that thrill of driving past them and their impossible size looming over the highway, somehow both exciting and menacing on the horizon. They mean we are almost home. They greet us on the edge of town like a man-made mountain range in our flat prairie town. Telling us we have arrived.