In the last 48 hours, I've driven through most of California. I had fleeting opportunities to visit distant friends before they moved ever more distant, and this being California, I felt sufficiently (uncharacteristically) daring enough to saddle up and go visit them. The first leg took me north to Berkeley, the second south to Los Angeles.
Seeing my distant friends, even if only for an hour or so, seemed silly on the face of it, considering that I drove hours and hours so to do. But taken altogether, the experiences were startlingly profound and wondrous, from my end of things.
What is it about dropping into gear and going, just going...? The mind's eye tracing the long squirrelly lines on the dog-eared maps. Contour curves echoing in the real world so satisfylingly, just so. The wind blowing through the car window, the passing lights echoing the night sky, the reassuring glow of destination cities appearing right where they're supposed to.
I'm away from home. The context of safety and normalcy is removed from me. All bets are off, all things are possible, and the gesture of going to see someone I may not see again for some time, if only to see one another once more and nothing else, becomes a profound gesture, something almost cosmic, transcendental (this is California, after all). (No I haven't smoked anything.)
Barrelling down Highway 101 from Santa Cruz, the rich hills and ridges of coastal California now live behind my eyelids, I see them in the night, sunlit in my memory and past the stillness and sharpness of the meager moon. The faces of my distant friends are echoed in the breaking waves, their voices chatter in the clattering rocks, I catch the fleeting lilt of their voices and gestures in the friendly nods and half-shrugs of passing strangers. (I swear I haven't smoked anything.)
Distant myself, I've been sufficiently stirred by all this to re-connect with those I've been intentionally or unintentionally distant from. And it's strange; it is this season, perhaps pregnant with profound and long-awaited change (I hope I hope I hope); or it is the endless cohort of friends who all seem to have birthdays within days of each other right now; or it is simply me waking up after a long sleep, recovering from a wounding theatre experience into a light and delightful one...
My letters are coming out again. Daylight is breaking again. The road unspools upward again, for the first time in what feels like a long time.