Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The road not taken

Back in New York, what have we learned? (I'm not usually in Boro Park, but was there today and this picture demanded to be taken) Was it enough of a road trip for the fabled pilgrimage-communitas dream of America? Perhaps not.

A narrative was beginning, as we moved from the dream of San Diego (which hapless Portuguese Cabrilho named San Miguel, when claiming it for the Spanish King) through an unblinking desert - complete with the lurid mirage of Las Vegas - to the living geology of Utah and Colorado, finishing up, just as frontiersy settlements started to aggregate in tiny towns, with another fancy of transcendence, the tundra atop Rocky Mountain National Park.

I don't know how traversing the Great Plains, of which we got a taste yesterday morning, would have changed the sense of a cosmic tale in which the human story is a sideshow, a joke. Perhaps the super-natural might seem to have vanished underground, or overhead, as little prairie towns and exurbs twinkled at us. Church steeples might have come to play a part in the emerging story, racism and diversity, new and old poverty and wealth and chain stores, and who knows how Lincoln and Chicago and Buffalo, Great and Finger Lakes, and what comes between would have struck us...

The illusion of the settler, surrounded only by kin on a large tract carved out of a wilderness, was as far as we got, making for too easy a contrast with New York's babble of languages and world of cultures. The puzzle, the miracle of how all these things fit together (because they do, the coast-to-coast road tripper has shown through the continuity of their movement for all its startling twists and turns) awaits a future, completed, traverse!

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