Exit 1

There is a stretch of I-95 North, at the edge of South Carolina, that is rough and dead. It feels as though you are not moving at all. Everything looks the same (which is fine because there is nothing to see aside from lifeless pine trees). There are two northbound lanes, no shoulders, and the asphalt is worn. At 65 mph everyone is just moving along–pushing through this unavoidable space to get to something nicer.

It is not quite limbo, not quite a void; but a necessary place of transition.

That is how life feels these days. That is how it has felt for some time. I am caught in that stretch. Moving. Toward something, though I am not sure what. Stability? Marriage? Security? Complacency? The best version of my Self? I am not sure. But I am moving, toward and away.

All along that stretch, motorists are reminded that something good is ahead. Something exciting and fun. A reward for their endurance and tenacity. Around mile marker 198 there is a bend, and just as the trees clear, emerges a jumbo sombrero outlined in lights with a sign underneath that announces “South of the Border”. Oasis, and North Carolina, at last. Once vibrant and bustling, the attraction-laced pit stop is now dilapidated and rusty. The tacky bright colors on the signs are faded and the swimming pools are nurseries for mosquito larvae hatched in rain puddles. The petting zoo has long since died. And the rides are missing children–they, too, are lonely. If nothing else, South of the Border is a good place to stop during the day to pee, get gas, and buy pork rinds. I do not stop there at night. The lights are inviting, but cast too many shadows.

Is this what I am moving toward? The place where joy used to live? A place to stay long enough to take a breath before I keep moving? Where are You leading me? And how many miles until I get there?

When can I exit?

I am ready for this trip to be over.


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