Of Hermits and Highways



by Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

I went out on the highway, driving from point B to point A. It felt like a warzone. Is everyone out there so alone? I threw on some Tom Petty and dropped down to 70. The rest of the world flew by at 75, 80, 85, 90, 95 miles per hour, while I just took my own sweet time and followed the F to the A-minor.

Like a brushfire, this city grows fast. Devouring all, it is another empire built to last. Caesar and Napoleon had the same idea. But they headed to Egypt where the houses are built on sand. Only God had it right: build your house on the rock.

Back out on the highway, all of the kindness seems buried in blaring horns and over-booked days. Our lives are so important that we take metal and glass–hot, hot sand–and we propel it toward one another at unsafe speeds. We hurry to nothing. If two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, it’s hard to believe one thing can simultaneously be in two places. But damned if we don’t all try.

One day we might evolve to the point where our bodies can split into four or five sections and be everywhere, giving everyone and everything equal attention. Our eyes will be on the screens, our ears in meetings, and our hands feeling around for purpose like a blind man reading a blank face.

Let’s enjoy our singular bodies for as long as we can. We are the lucky ones. The city is everywhere like a man torn apart, but our houses are our homes. Let the home be an oasis. And let’s be there. Let’s be there like the moon is there and not like some phantom satellite in the periphery. This is not the story of life; it’s simply life.

Outside, the city is abuzz. People come and go and I couldn’t get out quicker. The truth is that there is nothing going down in any town on Earth that is half as good as pouring out all of the liquor and spending all day in bed with a wife wrapped in white cotton sheets and Ryan Adams on vinyl. There can be a good book there too, written by someone who loved like great men love–maybe Hemingway or Julian Barnes. They are given the keys to this hidden zip code of ours. And so are Keats and Arthur Rimbaud. We could spend our days together in this secret city.

We should build this city outward and let it expand, too, to those who would welcome a new residency. There is enough love to go around. Let’s embrace art and friendship and the immortality of kindness. And in our city every day is Sunday, every night Saturday.

And don’t let that other city in, because you could phone everything in except for the way you feel when bedroom eyes close, and for a split second you feel the world end at the thought that they might not ever open.

The world spins on and so does the record. Some of the words are like a persistent, cold rain trickling down the window pane, and then some of the chords come like a fading light into the room. Rest your weary head on the shoulder of the day’s evening hours as the sky turns azure to marigold to violet.

I want to live where the air is cool and the hearts are as warm as true handshakes and goodbye embraces. The city lights and city sounds keep out the stars and the softer whispers. It has never been more important to have a place to call home–a city of our own.