tire marks on the highway

Since I’ve bought the Macbook Air, I have hardly touched my Macbook Pro in my office. 

Come to think of it, I have hardly touched my office, which is what I am supposed to be doing today.

I’ve been travelling a lot this summer, nothing so exciting as visiting the ocean or the mountains, but exciting enough in that my travels have afforded me the opportunity to spend a good deal of quality time with my loved ones and have also exposed me to places along that in-between stretch of I-90 that I otherwise would have never seen. Evangola State Park, for example, which is just about halfway between Cleveland and Syracuse and which provided me one of the loveliest camping and beach experiences I’ve ever had. Hamburg, NY, and the surrounding area – quaint and peaceful, great restaurants, and again, conveniently halfway between my NY home and my OH home. 

One thing that has always struck me while driving on the highway is the dark tracks left by other cars. Sometimes they skid off the road, disappearing into the grassy median. Sometimes they just stay in the lane, one long track followed by staccato stutters; neither inscription providing any clues about how they came to be or what occurred in their aftermath.

I look at the jersey barriers a lot: there are often marks where cars have evidently bumped or skidded into them and skittered along, leaving their signature on the concrete. There are many construction areas along this corridor, so jersey barriers line great stretches of highway along my 6 hour journey and I usually drive next to these walls with white knuckles, carefully and attentively reading the available distance between myself and the cars to my right as I pass. Sometimes, I lack the chutzpah to drive in the passing lane and keep it at an even 60mph behind an SUV to avoid the anxiousness of speeding past other cars next to an unforgiving concrete barrier.

Because people run into them. I have never run into one (knocking on wood here) and I have never seen anyone run into one, but they do – the evidence is left by their cars. And what marks do the walls make on the cars that bump into them? When I am driving, I have to be careful not to spend too long looking at these marks, wondering who made them and what happened as a result. If I let it go too far, I begin getting very nervous and uneasy – not very helpful when you’re passing two semis with a tailgating Nissan on your ass. I begin imagining the circumstances behind all those dark marks, and thinking about the people in the cars that left them there. The marks on the jersey barriers, and the tire marks on the highway too. I always puzzle over how they got there and whether the person driving the vehicle that deposited them on the pavement escaped cleanly or perished. Pretty morbid thinking for a nice highway drive, but not really when you consider that in the US, 115 people die per day in car accidents – that’s one every 13 minutes. Some of those marks are whispers of their stories, and some are traces of close calls that maybe ended with the driver crossing herself and drawing deep breaths to slow her hammering heart. Either way, they stand for me as a sober warning to be ever vigilant while navigating the road, and a reminder to be grateful for the life in my limbs, for it is fragile, and can be obliterated in an instant. 

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