Last Sunday when I left Montauk my plan was simple; I was going to Key West. I didn't know where I'd be staying, or how long, or any pertinent details, and that was fine by me. All I knew was my destination was a distance of 1,500 miles and would require 24 hours on the road. But I couldn't fully explain my actions, so I decided to keep friends in the dark as they would only pester me for answers I did not have. What if all this manic behavior was a run of the mill midlife crisis? The fewer others I embroiled the better.
It was midmorning when I skidded out of the parking lot of the Born Free Motel, spraying clam shells. Overnight, from wildest winter, the weather had adopted a sultry humidity tangible in the sunshiny air, and I'll admit it threw me. Where I had anticipated driving off bloated with smugness, flashing a peace sign to the cold, instead I was questioning everything, like what in all hell was I doing? And what did any of it have to do with the meaning of life? Anxiety simmered.
The initial stretch on the Long Island Expressway was one I've repeated a trillion times and any thrill of adventure was tempered by the ho-hum of seeing landmarks I knew by heart. For sport I gazed into other people's cars, pondering where they were headed, wondering if they could spot the
hugeness of my intentions. I didn't have a goat or a sofa strapped to the roof of my car, no tell tale signs. I flicked on the heated seats and heated steering wheel and relaxed into the ride.
Somewhere deep in an outer borough instead of continuing east into the moil of the city
I veered south, circumnavigating Manhattan, and for the first time I felt as if the trip had begun. I welled with emotion and a jittery excitement and pressed hard on the accelerator and before I knew it I was cresting a bridge, marveling at mans creations, and suddenly I was in New Jersey. And there everything came to a screeching halt.
The Turnpike was infested with inching traffic. Exits to gas stations where prices were low were clogged. The Garden State was excruciatingly slow to cross. Boredom combusted when I could find nothing on the radio, my cache of snacks was depleted, and despite the heated seats I felt whiplash developing from repeatedly braking to complete stops. The snarl was so bad I contemplated altering course and driving west, if only for the open highway. In an attempt to sop up time and nervous energy I reached for my telephone. Despite all my positing for remaining covert my resolve collapsed in the face of stultifying dullness. With reckless abandon I started making phone calls.
TO BE CONTINUED…