The journey that I have taken over the course of the past two years has been one that at times has seemed directionless. Taking the proverbial one step forward only to take two steps back again. At times these steps seem to be tripping over themselves then stumbling either forward or falling backwards so the count of steps is lost. What I know and I feel from my feet up through the aching bones, that are currently carrying the head which remains on a swivel seeking something to just seem familiar, is that the course would leave even the best navigator dizzied and frustrated. There are days where I feel like a stumbling drunk meandering from side to side down a sidewalk that never seems recognizable. There are days where I seem to walk in a straight line for what seems like days with lives and living happening all around me but my tunnel vision accepts none of it. There are the days where I am walking but my head is looking so far behind me staring down the past as if it were the barrel of a gun while my legs desperately try to carry me away. The days that seem to be the worst are the ones where I walk sideways, making no progress nor losing any ground. Not seeing before me or behind seemingly always parallel to where I either need to get to or where I need to get away from.
The roads in the new town I live in are set up on almost a grid like pattern. The city has one-way streets that provide one clear and distinct direction allowing no variance as to how you will traverse these paved paths. As you turn up these roads hoping to find your way home the inevitable missing of the turn you needed, happens. The only method to escaping the straight line you find yourself in is to turn right or left, then again, and then once more to end up back on the same street, back where you previously had been. You will drive in this same pattern until you find the road that you needed to take, if by circumstance you miss it again you will do the same as before, going back to where you came from to attempt the same path with the prayers of success this time. Having spent a good portion of my time in this new city making these turns and retracing these steps trying to find my way I have grown weary of the one way streets as I see what is the same path like a record skipping on the same note. The road just won’t correct to allow my song to play on. I know at some point I could just get up and move the needle, maybe even skip the song altogether but stubbornness of just wanting to see it through to the finish, to find the end or continue on, finds me willing that needle or that road to be different than last time, or to not skip, or repeat but to find the right track allowing the verse to continue. These one-way roads have grown so tiring to me that I now just find a place to turn around instead of turning down one so that I will at least be facing an opposite direction. This choice places me face to face with where I have just come from, the choice to look back and feel that it is okay because it was a choice that I needed to make in order to get where I needed to be. Sure I have a rear view mirror, on my doors are mounted mirror to glance behind me to judge what is behind but there are just times where you need to turn right around and face the past. Whether it be the road that led you to this moment or the entire route that placed you in this wilderness of unforgiving doubt, the time comes that you need to drive right towards it and plan from there. To know that you are losing ground but that you also chose to turn before too long. Driving back miles to turn down the correct road instead of traveling forward only to be more lost that you were previously.
When I was driving the large box truck out to my new walls, roof, and yes the private deck, the GPS tracked my time. It showed me how quickly I was approaching my new life. It directed me further and further away from my friends, to where my boys would be, and further away from the memory of the wife and family that I once had. It would alert me when I approached school zones, traffic, and construction along the way. For the first time I wanted to get caught in traffic, I wanted to see the night crews out there delaying us for hours, I wanted the world to provide me the delay that I was not able to get from the moment that I found out I was getting this job. I wanted these roads, these miles to stop counting down “until I reach my destination” because I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why this had to be my destination? Why was the pin on this electronic devise that marked the end getting closer and closer? It felt like someone grabbing me by the shirt and dragging me along like when I was a child. It felt like a slow, strange game where what I didn’t want to do was win or cross that finish line. I didn’t want to hear anymore how I should turn in fifteen minutes, I wanted the GPS so badly to say “please make a U-Turn” and I could just go back and know that the house I left would be there for me, my kids my boys would be in my house every other week and during the school year that they would be at my house until she came to pick them up, that I could go and take a walk with my friend and discuss the damages that life had placed into our arms or laugh at the absurdities we each found humor in. I wanted to ride my bike through thorn patches and walk out into slimy rivers while we each filled the air with vapor from our hipster addictions. I couldn’t though. I had to take this job; I had to do this with a face that didn’t show my boys how I was breaking inside. I spoke of how much I didn’t want this but I can only hope that they never saw that with each passing moment and with each click of the odometer I grew closer and closer to a fate that was the antithesis of anything I ever wanted again in my life. In the end, the GPS said it “now arriving at your destination” ironically the GPS’s soothing voice came programmed with the same name as hers. She was telling me, she guided me the whole way, and I reached my destination.
The final miles of any drive are statistically proven to be the most dangerous of any mile driven prior. The closer you get to your destination the more likely you are to let your guard down because you are comfortable with the roads or the area. The roads I now drive I feel no remorse when I say I am not comfortable with any of them. I have not allowed myself to relax as journeys shuffle my life rearranging it to the point that even the most recognizable road seems strange to me. I have driven the roads that I grew up on, past the roads I raised my family, the roads that we took to find a new life, and the roads I drove in a daze during the hardest period of my life. I refuse to get out of the car, I refuse to glamorize them in that “wouldn’t it be best if we still had these roads as our own” way. I refuse to recognize the roads of friends who fell off when times got tough or drive the roads of those once called family, once called mother, once called father, as those roads have been paved over. They are the roads that even the rear view won’t see me glance at. The most formidable mile I now traverse is the one that leads me back to this place, the place with the tapping on my shoulder as a warm breath whispers to me about the place called my destination. It is the last mile I drive before walking in the front door, it is the first mile I drive away from them, it is the first mile as I watch them drive away, and it is the mile I still cannot bare to even map at this point. I don’t want to hear the words spoken to me again by the familiar name from the GPS, nor do I want to hear that I will have to take another turn, I just want to get in my car and I want to drive without destinations. I want to end up where I am supposed to not where I am directed. I have spent the past two years being directed and it has only been away from everything I love, it is time for me to get to the end of the street, pause, look both ways and decide right or left?