The Phoenix One Journals Stories from the dawn of RoadTrip America
Philosophy from the dashboard
When people ask me where we're from these days, we usually answer, "We live on the road." It's not a great answer, and it usually requires further explanation, but it's the closest we can come to accuracy.
The trouble is, we don't exactly reside on the road, any more than John Glenn lives in outer space or Evel Knievel lives in the air between the sides of the Snake River Canyon. The time we spend actually rolling down a highway is like the distance between an airplane and the ground when you're wearing a parachute. It's a roller coaster ride with parking places at both ends.
So where do we actually live? Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, "In a truck," but that always makes us recall our commuter phase, when we really did feel as though we lived in cars on Los Angeles freeways. We didn't ever say it, though. In those days, if someone asked us where we lived, we had a street address to offer without a second thought as to where we spent most of my time. It belonged to a house, the place where we received our mail and stored our lifetime accumulation of stuff. We made a mortgage payment every month, so it must have been home. Did we live there? We thought so, mainly because we didn't think about it at all. We only started thinking about it when "Where do you live?" ceased to have an easy answer.
Maybe it's the wrong question. Maybe we should be asking "Where do you feel alive?" Would you give a street address if someone asked you that? What if you were John Glenn or Evel Knievel, or someone who likes to jump out of airplanes? The question would no longer be "Where do you get your mail and wash your socks?" but "Where do you really and truly LIVE?"
Maybe we've been answering truthfully after all. We really do LIVE on the road. The times in between are fine, too, and necessary. You don't hit the highway without tires and gas and the expectation that you'll get a little farther than the end of the block. Any road tripper can tell you that when it comes to making tracks, "parked" is an important part of the process.
But oh, those times when the wheels are rolling, when the telephone lines scallop their way to the horizon, when the next hill brings the next valley until the sun disappears. Those times are our cruise in the space shuttle, our motorized leap over a bottomless gorge, our perfect parachute jump. They're our chance to feel alive.
Where are we from? A truck stop, a campground, a driveway, a parking lot. Where do we LIVE? On the road.