I grew up dreaming of a wanderer’s life: roaming from place to place, seeing things, experiencing things. Just me, and the road, and wherever I happened to go next.
To some, that might seem like a life of unbearable loneliness. And indeed, it probably would be. However, I found the solitude inherent in the idea to be part of its attraction.
In addition, my ideas about economics were rather poor: things like eating and sleeping having a cost associated with them hadn’t occurred to me. But, substitute the always useful “if I won the lottery” trope and I was free to resume these fantasies.
The world is in a constant state of change, of course. However, we tend to think of the world we enter into and come to know as children as being “the” world. The one we think of as permanent. The stores, products, and businesses we know at that age are felt to be stable and abiding features of the world — but they rarely (if ever) are.
The motel chains of my youth lay largely abandoned. Restaurants are standing ruins. I often stop off at Interstate exits where few people stop anymore.
I am at one now.
My family never stayed here (it’s about four hours from where I grew up) but we ate at the restaurant here when I was a kid. I can still hear my family laughing over dinner and some story my brother told.
How many people’s lives intersected with this place?
Families staying here, children conceived here…
So many lives, so long ago…
“They brought them dead sons from the war,
And daughters whom life had crushed,
And their children fatherless, crying—
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.”