The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

From A Mazda 6

Sunday morning, I-40. I've left the family sleeping and slipped out to the rental car, a Mazda with automatic transmission (I keep phantom-clutching with my left foot). The sun is just up and it is not yet hot but threatening.

I scroll through the radio stations looking to catch the right mood, finally lighting on a gospel program, some Sunday-morning soul, on the Shaw University station WSHA. Is that Mahalia? I dunno, doesn't really matter. Sincerity, certainty, belief rather than my usual preferred modes of sarcasm and cynicism.

Windows down, almost-empty highway. Driving in America seems almost a collective, consensual act rather than the individual, every-man-for-himself combat-alert twitchiness of European driving. It would be downright leisurely, with its wide traffic lanes and smooth streets, if not for the cops absolutely everywhere. Have there always been this many, or am I just noticing it more now?

The woman in the drive-through window at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen calls me "honey". My change contains state quarters I haven't seen yet, and I squint at them. Left turn onto East Franklin, then a right on red past the U-mall and onto Fordham Boulevard. I eat hash browns with one hand on the wheel, cruise control on, a stack of napkins for greasy fingers on the console. "I Got Jesus (And That's All I Need)." That and some biscuits.

It's good to be home.

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