Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Memory Lane

Going back to my hometown is always somewhat of a surreal experience. Things still change in a small town, but at a much s-l-o-w-e-r pace, almost as if the earth’s revolutions slow down in just that one spot. Hence, I still know exactly what buildings are where, but maybe the paint color has changed, or a new sign makes things just different enough to feel foreign.

I never thought much of it at the time, but when I was in high school, you could recognize people by their vehicles. A certain pickup meant a close friend, while another body style barreling down the road meant trouble. When I left for college, it took a while to stop waving at vehicles I thought I recognized. It gradually sunk in that there were people that owned a yellow slugbug other than my English teacher.

Another strange thing about that town was that when we first moved there, you only had to dial a 7, followed by the last four digits of a person’s phone number. Our phonebook was the size and thickness of a comic book, and it included at least two other towns!


I ended up driving down immediately after work on Saturday night. I took the longer route, driving down from the north as it was already after dark, and I’m of the opinion that it is a wee bit safer. When I left, an almost-full orange moon was behind me. After turning south, it appeared on my left, seeming to race me towards Mexico. Despite my best tries, the moon ultimately won out—although I blame the angle of the highway for that one.

Twenty miles north of my hometown, I was greeted by multiple sets of flashing lights. This time, it wasn’t the Sheriff’s Department, but only the Border Patrol. I always forget about their little checkpoint. It’s been a recent addition in the last two years. To be honest, their presence there pisses me off. I’m not leaving the country, so why should I be forced to slow down so that they can peer into my vehicle or punch my license plate number into a computer? And what kind of profiling are they doing to base their searches on? I’ve never been stopped—perhaps because it would be difficult to smuggle more than one person in my car’s trunk—but I doubt that’s true for my darker-complexioned friends who live in the area.


On a lighter note, Easter dinner was great. I ate too much, as is the norm at holiday dinners. I had brought down Gewurztraminer wine to go with the ham—this was at the recommendation of several websites, don’t think I am cultured enough to know anything about wine! It went over well, and I’m only mentioning it here so that next time I’ll be able to find the name of it again.


After dinner, I left early enough so that I could take the route east back. This involves driving across reservation land along a bidirectional highway with many turns, and no shoulder. To this girl, no shoulder means one thing: no hidden cops! So, I did what anyone would do—I cranked up the music and criss-crossed back and forth across the double lines, straightening out the curves like my father taught me to. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the highway had recently been repaved, and my car sailed over the small dips like a boat at sea. I regret that I had but four cylinders to give!

It has probably been about ten years since I had been on that highway, and the drive brought back memories of many trips to away games during high school. The only thing bad about that road is that there are scraggly cows that wander free along one section of it, so I don’t like to drive it at night. Along the way, I was a bit startled by the numerous small, white crosses that flanked the road. A classmate and a teacher of mine have both been claimed by the local highways, and the small shrines I passed with votive candles lit for the holiday were a sobering reminder.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Great story about your hometown! Racing the moon, huh? Yeah, I've done that on the way home across the Smokey Mountains. With the winding mountain roads, it is like a game of hide and seek with the moon ducking behind mountain tops and me sneaking through tunnels.

I think that the highway markers are great reminders of the need to drive safely. Can you believe some groups are trying to get them outlawed as being against the separation of church and state? I mean, come on.......that is taking it a bit too far.

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