I always dreamed at that some point in time, I would get to take the road below. That I would either drive along it, come across it, get to take a picture like it. I spent my days in California winding up and down those mountains, camera in hand, waiting for the moment this vista would appear. As it turned out, it didn’t, and I was driving more than I thought I would.
I always dreamed that at some point in time, I would get to take a road trip. Drive along the endless roads, windows wound down, the wind in your hair. Feeling young. (I know I make too much fuss about this sentiment and that people are tired of hearing about it, especially when there was a time when I was all like, “fuck this ‘把握青春‘ shit”, but funny how time flies, and funny how things change, huh?) As it turns out, the windows were closed much of the time. The sun was crazy hot and I got sunburnt through the open roof. I stuck my camera out the top and hoped it wouldn’t get whipped away as we wound up the mountain. We started off listening to the Eagles (“Take It Easy” near Winslow, Arizona — always a dream) but slowly it became cheesy 90s pop music and the nostalgic songs of our childhood. Sugar Ray, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Texas. The New Radicals. Spice Girls. And while we drove into Los Angeles, a mini karaoke session, with 张惠妹 in the air.
The country is so different from anything I’m used to, simply because it is so big and everything I imagine can be there will be there. There is everything and nothing. There are miles and miles of nothing. The rocks cave in and lean towards the highway like lovers. They are only restrained by nets. The streets in the city are grids, and sometimes they cage people in, walking round and round in circles with nowhere else to go. Round the block and you’re back where you began. You go somewhere by not going anywhere at all. There are endless pancakes and burgers and limitless views and sprawling metropolises to see if you climb high enough. The clouds are fluffy and white and always have a silver lining. You can always see the storms from a distance. Funny how this land of plenty keeps pushing against the debt ceiling. The debates played on and on in the motels at night.
Comfort is sometimes such an unnecessary thing and it always needs to be earned. I drove an SUV. I drove on the wrong side on the road. I forgot, after a while, which side was right. I was confused, just like how it was when I first stepped into Holland. I nearly got knocked down looking the wrong way for traffic, as I did before. But this time, not on foot, not on a bicycle, where the repercussions are few. At worst, it would have been a broken arm and a few scrapes. (Been there, done that.) But here it was a car, and the cars are always speeding and always enormous. The highways are freeways and are not always free. The roads go on forever and there aren’t always lights. In the darkness, we must somehow find our way. When the route loses itself in the distance, sometimes we begin to cry. But we get home safe, and so all is fine.
The truth is, dreams are dreams, and the reality is sometimes better.