I Love the Open Road: Outsider Life

I love the open road 
and all that it suggests 
wheelwagon dust 
weeds and infidelities 
and always swore our love 
never questioned why 
in a wooden house 
immovable and silent 

-The Smashing Pumpkins, “Soot and Stars”

Once in my life, I believed that the only real way to understand the world was to get out there and travel it, and I didn’t (and don’t) mean that in a tourist way. I mean packing up a car and getting out there to see as many places as you can. For awhile, I thought about living in this mode: driving cross-country back and forth as I wrote and worked odd jobs. The romanticism of the idea got me the most, I think. Of course, I was also young at the time and didn’t feel I had much to lose. I also had a loose network of friends across the country whom I knew I could count on to help me along the way. I’ve changed a lot since then, and I’m not sure that the prescription in the first sentence is entirely accurate any longer, but the idea is still enchanting to me.

Something in my bones drew me to the road – and it still does. It’s hard to explain to those folks who don’t feel the same pull. You can, however, send those folks to some of the great road books and movies, like On the Road and Easy Rider to get some feel for what attracts us. The sense of freedom drew me in, and they talk about that some in Easy Rider. If freedom really is about having nothing left to lose, then I had a near-perfect freedom at various points in my life. The pull of the road seized me the strongest during those periods. Continue reading