I spent a day driving the Colonial Parkway today.
I had a car, hours in front of me, and a deep-seated desire to experience the Fall colors and crisp air, and the other-worldliness of the Parkway, all 23 miles of its winding curves with no stop lights or stop signs.
In my other trips to Williamsburg I had never realized quite how breathtaking this area is. I got an eyeful today. I got to see dozens of grazing deer, marshes and swamps, the York and James rivers…trees, squirrels. Heaven.
I got to drive for hours without stopping, without waiting at a light, without being angry, without speeding, without stressing. It was Los Angeles driving therapy. It was amazing. It was calming. It was regenerating. I must sound like a driving junkie, and I am. Living in the LA area, there was something inside me that needed to connect to driving in a way that was not insane, just so that I could remember this moment when I am stuck in rush hour traffic again in the near future. Just so I can call on the perfect memories of quiet and calm when someone next tries to kill me on the 110 through downtown or on the 405 exit to Wilshire East.
Today the biggest thing that happened to me was braking ever so gently for a slender grey deer, lightly stepping across the road, looking right, left, lifting each of its legs ever so carefully and bobbing its graceful neck with each tentative step. Once it was reassured the giant piece of machinery wasn’t moving forward, it looked straight ahead and took flight, leaping forward into the trees, leaving me gasping for air, moved.
I was listening to This American Life the whole way. The haunting stories in the “Like it or not” episode floated through the scenery as an eerie and perfect background. I can still recall all the colorful stories and sounds of the stories about Alabama fish jubilee, pregnancy, passivity, car chases, clichés, bullies. It was bizarre and enjoyable, a quiet weird pleasant graceful moment. And my return into civilization: