March 13, 2001 03:26 PM

Interstate 85. Will always be my companion.

driving on nine

The first time we drove to Greensboro. We meant to stay a day, maybe just a few hours. But we had bags packed, returning from home, and clean clothes. We had Enya. We had cigarettes, my car. We had the look in that face I knew so well. And we, all three, had our strange love. Huddled in blankets. Dancing. Picking up boys. Drinking coffee and talking till all hours.

looking for 130

And then he had his car. We could meet. Linger. They drove off towards 220. Towards 81. They drove, in short. West. And I headed east alone.

Up to 40. To 85. North, east, then back not quite home.

maybe I passed it

Between midnight and five in the morning. Interstate 85 is filled with ghosts. It's a different place, a different state. And it's new every time. Between midnight and five in the morning. You grow into truck driver habits. Flashing headlights that say "I'm okay. You're okay". You imagine the romance and the complete lack of romance that must go on in those huge windtunnels of truckness.

Only between midnight and five in the morning do you feel safe most with towering rigs on three sides of you. That's when your own imagination and emotion kick in so hard you just want to feel safe and loved somehow.

go another mile

Somewhere your cozy ghosttown morphs. Suddenly it's nearly home. It's the lights of a city. The sign that you're almost there. You're back, in Virginia, and you're only a highway interchange and another hour's drive from sleep. From a tall, hard bed that feels empty but just as safe as arms and tractor trailers and hills that embrace you as the sun sets and the music rises.

driving on nine

And 85 will carry you home again.

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