19 November 2017

Addendum to the Road Not Taken (Ghosts)

The road was embraced with melancholy and longing, getting back to another version of home. Freshly scrubbed sky of Virginia blue tinging everything in sight under the watery sun. A split between heart and head throbbed heavily under a breastbone shielding lungs that struggled to draw enough air. Leaving, arriving, restless.

I picked the bigger road partly because it was faster. More impersonal. I could find a place of branded anonymity in which to eat. A place to be in the crowd but not of the crowd. In short, I could avoid interaction without being alone.

Craving company to fight off the loneliness but lacking energy to be a good companion: this will be my doom.

Saltwater flows in my veins alongside the blood. Riverine tides with estuary ebb and flow pull on my heart wherever I go. Yet that in part prompted me to avoid the scenic route. It ran too close to the water. Earlier that morning, I had shivered awake from unsettling dreams of the ocean and the night. Whimpering turning into a sharp intake of breath.

I had fallen or was pushed from a ship, the bulk of which I spied receding in the distance. The blood-tinged orange sun was nearly down. Stars were coming out and cool wind ruffled the water. I trod water while contemplating a death by drowning.

I knew for certain, under that deep indigo sky, that the ship was not coming back. My unsettled mind swore it heard laughter floating over the water. It saddened me to no end that this laughter might be the last human sound I ever heard. A hard scrubbing in a hot shower eradicated the uneasiness.

I pushed some breakfast down on a jittery stomach. It refused to hold still. Sheer willpower kept it in place, which braced me for the drive. Lunch would be somewhere on the road for sure.

So it was that the car brought me to the decision point. Highway or byway? My heart already knew the answer. My head had abdicated responsibility a long time ago. It was to be the highway, and not only for the reasons set forth earlier in this ramble.

A bigger, more poignant reason was I just could not bear the thought that the quieter scenic road would bring to my eyes a lone boat on a river, or a solitary duck winging through a November sky filled with the whispers of all the losses I endured in the past year. Those avatars of loneliness would have broken me down in tears, and I did not want to besmirch with such emissions a landscape so beholden to my heart. 

Fall and winter in the tidewater holds a bittersweet beauty of its own. One best contemplated without a heavy heart and weary psyche. That Sunday drive would be on the fast road, the anonymous road, where I could eat surrounded by cacophonous isolation and be grateful for a crowd that would help me pull the curtains on the road not taken.

I did not take that road on the return. The usual route back to Maryland, small towns and browning leaves by the rivers crossed in the light of a sun in repose. Ghosts were whispering to me to visit them. I confess that on this trip, I was a coward. There would be no conclave with the undead.

It was no fault of the season. Nor fault of the rivers. I adore fall upon the estuaries. Water has its own magnetism. The pull is strong upon my heart, no matter what time of year. The promise of sunlight on rippled wavelets, geese creating flying V's in the November air, or even the culinary tug of fried oysters in a small town family restaurant, these are all grand things.

But when pewter skies and soul weariness grip the eye and the heart, the barrier between sighs and tears thins too much.

1 comment:

"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...