Leaving Junction City Kansas after Dad's work week and heading toward Saint Paul. Climbing into the backseat of a two-toned salmon and white Chevy and watching my Father’s jacket collar as we motored along US Route 77.
Small tots taking turns riding in the rear window. Fitting inside the space between the trunk and the roof. Jiggling in reply to the textures of the pavement. Looking for the Big Dipper. Watching the lights of each town grow with each approach. Singing the same circus song and counting the same colored cars and remaining silent in the midst of pinches and tickles. Scrunching against the accusations of being on someone else's seat.
The sides of the highway littered with small white crosses. Crosses to mark places. Accidents. Fatalities. The crosses were punctuated by signs: “narrow bridge” or “narrow roads.” Feeling fear as my Father drove that winding strip of highway. Closing my eyes and praying for protection as my Father passed a car driving the opposite direction. Speeds limited to 75 mph.
Stuckey’s Pecan Rolls.
PJ’s with socks at the end of the legs. Tiny union suits. Wrapped in blankets and tugging for a share of the warmth.
Bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread passed overhead from front seat to back.
A motherly mantra: “I’d just like to make it through one trip without milk spilled down my back!”
Yesterday I drove the highway between Chicago and Saint Paul. I wanted the silence of solitude. No radio. No chatter. I wanted the rote of the road. The shoulders of the highway were littered with debris: 27 carcasses of deer. Skins sprayed with orange painted Xs. I remembered the crosses. I chewed a stick of jerky and remembered my memories.