Deep within the quilted, patchwork fields of Pennsylvania, threaded with broken, narrow roads that unravel through the hillsides, I reached the proverbial fork and took the road less traveled.
I visit that corner in my mind sometimes, landmarked by the dilapidated silo on the right and the gated patch of tombstones on the left, next to the old brick church built by men in suspendered black pants with long, dusty beards that bloom beneath their sweaty straw brims.
I take that sharp left turn and catch my breath, feeling the familiar push-pull of angst and adventure as the road winds into the trees- the canopy as dark and ominous as a hooded stranger. I drive ahead, applauding my ignorance, until the shadows fade to light and the land splits open like a rip in the fabric, revealing the shale-covered lane that leads me straight to him.
What if I had lost my nerve? What if I had burst from the fields, frightened by the drone of the corn header driving through the countryside? The deer that scampers across the lane in front of me stares at my soul with a look I’ve seen a thousand times in the mirror. She knows exactly what scares me.
It’s not just the pace- the slower heartbeats, the unhurried clock, the giant popcorn clouds that float across the sky with agonizing leisure, like giant glaciers of air insulating the valleys from distant urban tempos.
I can do slow.
I can downshift into an inert mass of wet sand on a warm coast. I can lose myself in nature, and dawdle on coastal, bipolar landscapes that are alternately tranquil and ferocious. I can sit on a shoreline and stare at the end of the world until time simply runs out.
But he’d be nowhere to be found.
Our world is flat, like a two-sided coin. His side is rugged like the quarries and as enduring as a winter storm. Mine is smooth as hot glass, reflecting light like a laser. Flipping it would most certainly quash dreams for one of us with an unfortunate thud. Instead, we spin on the edges and hold on for the ride.
I’m glad I turned left, and I am thankful there is ample room in his arms for my big winter coat. But still, most days, I stay outside the snow globe, waving dispassionately to the swaddled country folks huddled beneath the quaint streetlight. I could join them, but somewhere in the distance is the bellow of a conch shell, beckoning.