Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina. The state signs fly past. Fog gives way to sunshine and all day long the trees seem to tumble toward the highway, green and gold, amber, red, orange. Mist kisses the mountains and the endless valleys. Cows and sheep and horses graze, a pumpkin patch blankets a ridge with polka dots, the last stand of corn gathers the sun’s rays.
We are headed south, precious cargo on board, the first deliveries from our new company. We’re taking a chance, stepping outside of the world in which we’re known and into one that requires using old skills in new ways. While I drive, Carl works on logo ideas. He becomes so lost in thought that two hours and one magnificent mountain range pass by.
FedEx Ground trucks, panel vans, and U-Hauls ride along with us for miles. When they turn off, others appear to replace them, an endless supply of cargo. Dave Matthews Band, Joe Jackson, Dispatch, Roseanne Cash, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, and Brandi Carlisle provide our highway soundtrack. It gets tougher to find good coffee and unsweetened tea. Gas prices drop.
Amish wagons on sale at used car lots. A Pentecostal church squeezed between a Home Depot and a Target. Both make me consider how fluid our definitions can be of what is sacrosanct. A white stretch limo atop a junkyard sign makes me laugh. A disheveled bag lady wandering on the road’s shoulder gives me pause.
What is left behind as we speed down the road? The life we know and its security, easing into the next chapter, a healthy bank account. But, at each stop we find a warm light and a hug, a soft bed, laughter and sweet dreams. Those we love will sustain us when the going gets tough; they are the mile markers we have planted without knowing the route we would eventually take.
In the car, the talk is back to marketing and social media, how to ramp up production and generate capacity. Out there, beyond the windshield, is the real wealth of this country: the people and the towns they have built; harvest festivals and Saturday flea markets; fast food and hotel chains clustered around highway exits; college towns; caverns and caves and bridges; battlegrounds and presidential libraries; memorials to fallen soldiers and roadside crosses; construction cranes and water towers. Each one begun from a single idea, each built with grit and ingenuity.
And, beneath our wheels and all around us, is the land. The glorious, golden earth on which we created this patchwork world. This is our birthright, and the first of our freedoms is that we can go out and discover it. No one stops us as we cross the state borders, and we can travel as far as we want on the freeways each day. Out here there are no limits to what we can do or be.