The second shortest day of driving felt like the longest. I suppose it’s like a marathon, where by the end of it all you’re so exhausted that the last mile seems like an eternity, even if you’re going the same speed, the same tempo, the same rhythm. I suppose, too, that the traffic had something to do with it. No matter. The drive was a haul.
It began with waking up at six in Carrol Gardens, walking to get coffee, walking inside the coffee shop before it was open, apologizing for doing so, and getting coffee nonetheless. It continued with breakfast at my brother’s apartment. And it continued even more with me getting into my car and driving directly into traffic after the Triboro Bridge ($5.50, by the way), a woman in a Lexus asking me to mind the funeral procession as three lanes of traffic converged into two, when all I really wanted to do was play Dumb-West-Coaster-With-Oregon-Plates who doesn’t know what a funeral procession is. But I couldn’t. And so I minded the funeral procession, which didn’t cost me much time, but which I felt did, and I was frustrated.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the parking ticket. Remember, I just drove three thousand miles. There had to be one. It was in New York, and I discovered it this morning. Turns out, my front license plate was illegally positioned. It sits in the dashboard instead of the front bumper. And that’s, um, illegal. The reason? I don’t know. But the reason I do not have my license plate in the proper place? The last person who owned it somehow got the license plate changed in Idaho by literally ripping the plate off of a stripped screw. Ergo, I could not put the new license plate on without it flapping about in the wind. Ergo, I put it where the previous owner had put it–on the dash. This was a good idea as long as I lived in a city that was not going bankrupt. This was a bad idea in New York City.
Then there was Connecticut. The traffic cleared up. New Haven was ugly and Hartford had charm.
Then came Massachusetts. Driving over the border. Feeling lost. Deciding that, if nothing else, I am going home a failure.
Or something of the sort.
There was traffic again on I-95, and I hated everything.
I pulled into my parents’ driveway a little after four. They were happy to see me and I was happy to see them. We unloaded all the shit from my car, and talked about how the drive had been and how everything was so dirty in my little 1984 Subaru hatchback–and we didn’t talk much, if at all, about me coming home a failure. For that I was grateful, because all I’d been doing for the past two weeks was thinking about failure, and how it was time for a bigger kind of kill, the kind you don’t feel like a failure for. That kind. That’s what I’d been thinking about. And I was excited and depressed and angry and relieved all at once. And I was glad to be someplace where I didn’t have to drive anymore.
And where I didn’t really have a damned clue what to do.