The interstate is ugly. It’s cracked concrete and faded lines, littered with trucks plastered front to back in the kind of gimmicky labels only American advertising can produce. The guard rails are so elegant as to be safety cable strung between utilitarian posts.
And we fly along the pavement, heading homeward from my adopted country, bound for my first homeland of Canada.
The sky is streaked with jet trails: cometlike and quickly vanishing. The editors from the big cities can’t believe I’d drive two days to attend a publishing conference. “Don’t they have planes there?”
Yes, but there are all kinds of flight. For instance, acquisitions editors are magic feathers. There are people who will cling to them for dear life and people who will learn to let go and do what they should. They’ll learn (or fail to learn) that no one flies alone, but we all use our own muscle to soar. In publishing, none of our pinions have magic inside. They have to be hollow to work right.
On the interstate, we fly home.
It’s ugly grey and it’s a long, long road. The land alongside all blurs together, because this is Wisconsin and Minnesota. Tree. Hill. Cow. Tree. Corn. Corn. Cow. Tree. Hill. Corn. We’ve been on the road for thirteen hours now, and the sun is setting. That’s what turns the flight of planes and cars and human lives into gold. It reflects off distant fuselage like a spark and turns the dull grey road into a mirror.
The hour of light comes. It happens once every morning, and once every evening. It’s the time when the world turns rose-gold and it’s impossible to take a bad photo, because for just a little while, everything in this world takes on the form Plato thought it never could.
“Did you notice how the sunset lights up the road?” I say to my husband.
“Yeah, it’s been glaring in my eyes for the last half hour,” he says.
“That’s what the weekend was like,” I say.
“No — “
We had lunch with a longtime friend and fellow Firefly fan, but no.
“Something ugly made beautiful by the light of something greater,” I tell him.
He gets it. This is exactly why we’ll drive two days together anytime. To discuss the physics and spirituality of a sunset.
The road ahead is a monotonous thing, and there is no destination in sight — only more of the same hard slogging. But that’s not why I’m on it. I’m a prairie girl. It’s in my blood to watch the sky.
And homeward I fly.