Needless to say, New York City is a little difficult for me. Usually I can deal with the buildings and the agro drivers and the rushing and bustling and people with flyers and enormous waving rabbits in Times Square, but this time, I mostly just felt overwhelmed and exhausted. Poor New York. I gave it short shrift. At least I got to hang out with my very good friends and worship their baby, who is truly worthy thereof.
Then started the drive West, across this great land of ours. I stopped in Centralia, land of the coal fire, and observed the smouldering clouds of smoke and the warm venting air coming from splits in the ground. It was raining. I think I was most surprised by the heavy traffic; the center of Centralia is the crossing of two major county highways, so there is all kinds of traffic going through a place where there used to be a town.
The weird thing is that when you're going to a town that was razed to the ground, its inhabitants moved two towns over because otherwise they would have died in their sleep of black damp, what you're looking for is things that aren't there. You're looking for the lack of buildings, the absence of people. And when you get there, mostly what you think is, "Wow, there's nothing here."
After a brief stop in Pittsburgh, I kept driving West, across Indiana and Illinois and Missouri, across Kansas. Neverending Kansas, whose main saving grace is that the speed limit is 70 mph. I did get out at rest stops from time to time, and marveled at the clean expanse of air. You definitely feel small in the middle of Kansas, which is very silent and the sky is aggressively blue, and the air has no smog. Then I got to Colorado, and the speed limit went up to 75 mph, which was good, cause I was really ready to be out of the car.
As I drove towards Boulder, the mountains looming at me in front of the setting sun, I thought about how lucky I am. I live in a country where this is possible, where the vastness spreads into our hearts and souls and makes us ready and open for anything.