I had a friend tell me the other day that my excitement to be onto the next town reminded him of Mac Davis’ lyric “happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror.” Though in my case that was a good thing and it wasn’t just Lubbock, Texas.
See, in that song Mac comes to learn he was young and fooled by youth, and therefore memories of leaving his town were negative. That isn’t the case for me.
When my new friend told me this he meant my departure from Missoula and the excitement I was feeling to be on the road again, and he was right. Correct twice over, because the lyrics first brought to my mind the actual happiness I experience when I look in my rear view mirror. The happiness my rear view mirror brings me, besides the happiness that leaving brings me.
I have two differing mirrors, one factory and the other a cheapy to replace the other factory mirror I managed to bust off within an hour of owning Little Wing. The right one, which is the original factory mirror, is beautiful. It stays steady and when I look in it I can see the cars behind me. The other mirror, the twelve dollar lefty, is horrendous. It jiggles and jostles, and I can barely make out anything in it when I get above 50 mph. Though annoying I have decided that the left mirror only serves to make me more grateful for the perfection that is my right mirror. I feel truly happy when I look in the right mirror. Not only can I see the traffic that is behind me, I can also make out the disappearing landscapes. I can see mountains, and sky, and trees, and even towns, all behind me. It is like an opportunity to get a second helping of the delicious scenery I just took in.
The things I have noticed out my rear view mirror are pretty much the same as what I see out my visor, the same stuff I see ahead of me, but it still seems magical.
In Montana the distant hills and mountains look to be a colored pencil drawing. So lovely and soft in their appearance, I feel as though I’m riding in a work of art.
Wyoming, in its rectangular shape, is like a desolate yellow painting. A windy painting with fields, oil rigs, and cows. Surrounding the picture though is a lovely intricate frame. A rectangle of mountains and trees and gorgeous sky’s framing the yellow painting.
Every state seems to have it’s own type of beauty. Every state has a subtle shift in the way things appear. The fields of Washington look nothing like those in Nebraska when one looks carefully, and no state has trees quite like Minnesota. Even Idaho is not easily mistaken for Wyoming even though they are right next to each other, and the northern tip up by Coeur d’Alene is all its own.
I have been trying to relate things as I go. Sometimes I will see a field and consider how it looks like the farm areas surrounding St. Cloud. At other times a rock face will remind me of Duluth, or a swampy area will bring me over to Mile Lacs, but the truth is that none of it is comparable. The U.S. is a variegated territory filled with borders that contain differing magical bits inside each one. Different pieces of art for the eye to see.
My rear view mirror captures it all. When I haven’t seen enough of a place I look in my right mirror and stare for longer. When I am leaving a city I can choose to look in my right mirror or my left mirror, depending on how I felt about the area. My mirrors do bring me happiness. Like a moving picture frame that fleetingly captures the past.
The leaving of a town also brings happiness. The Mac Davis quote is actually quite apropos to my journey. I find comfort in getting on Little Wing and riding away. Regardless of the welcome I received in an area, or the friendships I acquired, moving on is my comfort zone.
I have always enjoyed leaving. When the going got tough I, being tough and all, got going. I up and left.
I do stick things out as well, though. Like many people I have stuck around stress-inducing jobs for to long. It wasn’t to long ago that I was known to turn my cheek more than twice in human relationships. I sometimes work on tough problems for longer than most people think I should. I don’t completely abandon some projects that remain unfinished for excessive amounts of time, I keep them around expecting to get to them later, and I do. However, when things get really tough, when I know there is no solution, or good answer to tell me why I should stick to it, I run.
When the going gets tough I get going.
Once I do run or get going it is hard to get me to go back, and that is why I say I enjoy leaving. I love the freedom that comes from ‘giving up.’ Turning tail and bolting. Looking at bad situations out my shaky left hand mirror, and allowing the lack of clarity to envelope the past.
I have left many a big town recently. From Laramie to Rock Springs, WY. Pocatello, Idaho after that, followed by Missoula, Montana. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho was the last big town, and after that I was ready to be done. Too much of the hustle and bustle. Too much interstate riding, I was ready to hit some back roads and say good by to the interstate out of my left hand mirror. First, though, I had to get to Spokane.
Spokane is a busy place, a frighteningly busy place. In order to get on Highway 2 out of Coeur d’Alene though I had to cross it. The freeway was insane. It was busy, fast, and rather lawless. The 60 mph signs did no good with the renegade traffic all around. It was worse than the freeways into the Twin Cites from my home state, Minnesota, and I thought nothing got worse than that. I was at the mercy of fast moving traffic, and as its casualty the freeway apprehended my license plate.
A traumatic event if nothing else. Okay, well actually, it wasn’t that bad. The worst part of the event was the traffic, the losing of the license plate really only relegated me to the back roads and small towns of Washington, which is really what I wanted anyway. I’m on my way to Seattle so when I figured out how to get my new plate from Minnesota to Washington it was all sort of golden. Like an occurrence put in place and made meant to be by some larger force. With the help of an amazing friend, and the state of Washington DMV I am legal, and should be even more legal once again come the weekend.
Washington has its own beauty. Mainly it is the smell, but the fields of produce and friendly small towns don’t hurt. Signs that speak of safe driving all begin with the word ‘Please,’ and that is sort of the atmosphere here. It feels gracious and safe.
Driving laws are tough here, or so I was told by the man at the DMV. Emissions standards are set and regulated, and organic orchards crop up along the smaller roads. It is all part of this culture of being kind to one another, I think. I dig.
I just rode through this town called Quincy. It was home to a apple factory (is that what its called? Or is it a processing plant? Or what?) and a potato plant (plant, as in another word for factory). The town smelled amazing. It smelled like a great day in the kitchen and made me hungry for some healthy, plant derived sustenance. As I continued to ride I became engulfed by fields and orchards on either side. Grapes, apples, blueberries, pears — the amount of fruit was ridiculous. The best part was that the majority of these fruit patches were labeled organic. It just makes one feel happy. I was looking in my right hand mirror as much as I was looking ahead.
The best part of seeing town in my rear view mirror is the unadulterated scenery one gets to take in once they are on down the road. The scenery free from ostentatious bill boards, or never-ending traffic. Landscapes that are home to cows, fields, trees, vegetation, and luxurious spots to stop and rest encumbered by other humans. Happiness is the moment when the previous town is absent in Little Wing’s right rear view mirror and nature takes over.
Little Wing, myself, and the landscape, the going ain’t too tough.