Inter-state of desire

I-90Sometimes, I just want to travel. To anywhere. It doesn’t matter. When I turn onto the interstate in the morning, I want to keep going, to let the road lead me to my next destination, without any plan or reason. I want to continue ahead, passing through the heart of the country and emerging in another state – in another culture altogether.

I think about this every morning. What would happen if I just kept going? If I hopped on Interstate 90 and went South, passing through every town center and mingling with every city’s normal traffic, a stranger becoming part of the local driving culture. I look around and wonder how many of my fellow commuters are actually just passing through for the day, circling the city in search of a rest stop or McDonalds, drifting through South Dakota on their way to bigger and better things. Or, quite possibly, smaller and not as important things.

I could meld with the automobile culture of Milwaukee if I arrived at the right time, sitting in traffic like a hunter in a duck blind, seeking out my prey: the experience of being in a new city, another conquered location to add toward my limit. I would become nearly invisible, a body that has never been encountered before. People would find me unremarkable, another car on another road traveling with everyone else.

But I would know better. I would be enjoying every mile of my journey. No one would suspect a thing – that I was not one of them.

It’s always been a dream of mine to hop in the car and travel an interstate from beginning to end. I want to start in Seattle and pass through every location that I-90 services, through Chicago and Cleveland, eventually landing in Boston. Or, I could mix it up, driving until I felt the draw of a random city, spurred on by the name on an interstate exit sign. Continue south through Omaha to Kansas City? Or switch directions at I-80 and continue on to San Francisco. Or New York City.

I harbor a secret jealousy for people who travel as part of their career. I long to travel the same ribbon as millions before me, making pilgrimages to the corners of the country. I want to embark on my generation’s Oregon Trail – our long and perilous journey to destinations unknown.

Every major town is connected to each other through the interstate system. You could visit any city in the nation just by continuing along the interstate, turning onto a new road every once in a while, and guessing your general direction. I find that so exhilarating. I find it amazing that Seattle, my favorite U.S. city, and Boston, the U.S. destination I desire to visit above all others, could serve as bookends for the interstate that runs through my backyard.

There would be no need for maps. Directions would be unnecessary. Instead, I would just follow the signs. All I would have to do is hop on and drive.

This was lovingly handwritten on October 23rd, 2006