Monday, January 12, 2015

From East to West

Do you know how big the continental United States is? Because I'm learning. And it's enormous. It feels oceanic, glacial, expansive - I've run out of adjectives. The bigger it feels, the safer my car interior and my nightly hotel room boxes begin to seem. I sit for whole minutes in my car, the engine off, gathering my courage and my wits in order to get out and move my tiny insignificant self from one safe port to another and then back again. I have never filled and emptied my gas tank so much before (it feels). I'm still shocked every time that the nozzle clicks off and the total reads $19.01, $18.49, $15.12. The last time I remember seeing gas for $1.79/gallon, I was in high school.


Indiana and Illinois are the flattest things I have ever seen. I felt like an ant in a gymnasium. The horizon never seemed to move, and had my gas tank not been steadily emptying, I would have thought I was suspended in a floating, unmoving bubble rather than covering miles of ground.

Outside St. Louis, Missouri, I got into a fight with Siri. She was so calmly telling me to exit at an exit that wasn't there until, whoops, suddenly there it was and her crystal clear self telling me to "Exit now," was too much for me and I told her she was an idiot and that she needs to warn people before the exit, because that is literally the point of having Google Maps with navigation features. She told me to drive six miles further and get on I-44W another way and it worked so I calmed down and felt badly for yelling at her so I and asked her to tell me about the St. Louis arch and she placidly read me the (entire) Wikipedia page about it. (Dear Tom Hanks in Castaway, with Wilson - I understand you now.)


Illinois is home to the world's largest wind chimes. Betcha didn't know that was even a thing. Oh, but it is. And across the street from this gem - which, by the way, I pulled the rope for and made it chime and it was the single best moment of my day - is this other gem:


Coming soon! Maybe I'll catch it on my way back through.

The further south and west I go, the less and less variety there is on the radio. Christian music, country music, and Christian country music are my three options. The commercials are for tractor sales and during the news breaks, DJs discuss the price of soybean seed at the local auction house. I feel sometimes intensely foreign, like my bright blue Connecticut license plate is a kind of nakedness that I can't cover up. Other times, it just feels like a flatter, more expansive version of the farmland I grew up in. Then I'll see a hand-painted sign that says, "OBAMA LIES," or two billboards stacked on top of each other, the top demanding, "DO YOU KNOW JESUS?" with a phone number to call (Hello, Jesus? Yes, I have some things I'd like to discuss with you...), and the bottom directing me to the closest "ADULT SUPERCENTER STORE, 2 EXITS AHEAD." And then I feel naked again, with my HRC magnet and my Coexist bumper sticker, and I have to take deep breaths before leaving my car and remind myself sternly that by and large, people are good and kind and wish me no harm, and the dead bolt is locked, and my phone is charged, and I am safe, I am safe, I am safe.


4 comments:

H said...

Siri placidly reading you the (entire) Wikipedia page cracked me up. Wish I could be adventuring with you…

-small friend

Lisa said...

Where are you going my girl? I was so excited to see new posts from you, reading you is one of my favorite things! I will say that my GPS, Doris, is a filthy liar...

Cait said...

Hi Lisa! Glad to be back. I'm spending my last semester of school in Arizona. More details to come :)

Abraham Yates said...

The United States has a real breadth and scale in terms of land mass that we tend to lose sight of, since we are used to digesting its entirety at the media at once. So yes, it could be quite a surprise when one actually attempts to go and cross the country. Often, fuel prices are the least reasons for it, so much as the amount of fuel that will be needed to pick up and carry the vehicle across. However, we are not as stuck with gas stations now, since we can literally bring them to us wherever and whenever we might need tehm, throughout that entire map. Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company