Sitting under a merge sign in my car on the side of a highway. Same as any other highway. Same as the highways Bob Seger sings about, same as any other day. Like when I ‘ran away’ at 19. Just up and left work, right in the middle of my shift. The title “Prep Cook” felt minuscule, a small death each day. My life wanted bigger than that—a grand highway opening before me, a road of possibility, a path without grubby aprons and grease stains, no minimum wage pay-check to pay-check, kitchen-of-forgotten-dreams, percentage in lieu of benefits—my life wanted bigger than that. Damn near all of us hated our job, the kind of job with a workplace lottery pool. Hopes and dreams kissed on a note, a five-dollar bill handed over each week, dreams held captive in chance—no sense what to do with dreams outside of hope, the amnesia that life works with you when you pursue your dreams. Life doesn’t do anything with them if all they do is float about in the music-memory of a road trip, a yearning for the distant future.
The car vibrates as a big rig gears up in a rumbling heavy but steady pace loaded full with over-taxed goods. Driver: under-paid, under-slept, slugging through another shift just to make it to ‘it’s my Friday.”
I hear the intermittent sounds of a saw out the passenger-side window. A masonry company re-faces the aging pillars outside a Motel Lobby. Set back from the intersection, trades people move about the site, between renovation areas and work trucks which near fill the parking lot. The years of hard labour revealed on cracked hands and hard veins. The quickening of age on their necks, in this sun, in their wrinkles. Decades on skin, the longest years… The rock work is meticulous, calculated, practiced. Perhaps one comes to love the perfection of working with stone, a real thing, A God Created thing? Perhaps we too chisel away at that: God. Break it off into manageable concepts with words, like: Universe; Source, Higher Power—I am guilty of that, but no shame in sorting out this world in the ways we do.
Whispers of cloud break off a larger cloud, forming ribs, fingers, centipede legs.
The clouds are making art today.
Alongside the ditch: scattered litter, new growth on bramble shrubs—soon to be green and full. Then, dusted with summers’ pollution, then, winter. Again new growth, again—always—another spring
Three hours have passed, watching the world go by. Same as any other day you’ve come to know. But somehow, in thinking that, you realize all of a sudden your life is different. The entire landscape in front of you has changed, by not changing at all. It’s still highways and music, spring and aging, clouds making art. It’s the insides that are different. The inner world has become one of love. The inner-you feels like home. All the hopes have been realized and dreams have been fulfilled. Or not. It doesn’t matter. Anything you can wish for in clouds or highways, imagined or real, is all inside you.
I look to my own hands. Wishing to see no other hands but mine. I rub my fingertips together, feel the soft sensation of exactly my fingerprints. The touch I place on this world. My fingers to the keyboard late at night. Caressing my children’s foreheads as I tuck them in to bed. My hands grasping my husband’s—a perfection in itself. I look to my own hands and feel a deep sense of appreciation for all the wear and tear, the lessons. This LOVE.
Sitting under a merge sign in my car on the side of a highway, waiting for the workers on ladders, excited to see the red vinyl billboard go up.
We all have stories of LOVE. So many stories. Here’s one of mine. Bright Red. Bursting. From my heart to yours.