(i didn't take this picture, i found it online because i don't have many good pictures from this day)we're driving from denver to moab, utah. we're going to spend a few days in moab at arches before we head back to colorado to spend a week at mesa verde. to say that our relationship has been tumultuous over the course of my life might be an understatement - my coldness and moodiness is difficult for you, when your love and affection is constantly overflowing for me and sometimes i just reject it. it's hurtful, i know, but i've never been able to fix it. i've sat in the car with you before and its felt like there is a wall thicker than any wall i'd ever built between us. but not today - i won't let it happen today and that's the most that i can give you or anyone - not today, not in this particular car ride.
i remember very little about this trip - except the nothingness. the comfort of the nothingness returning to my landscape. nothing, but something, too. the green is gone, or at least its more subtle now. there are new colors: white, red, brown. roads are long and straight and unending. there are no farm houses here, no barns, no hills - there is not endless green in every direction i look. there is change, there is openness, there is a horizon, there is sky.
i remember so many car rides with you. the first time you played paul simon with me, drives all around this great country - from maine to washington and everywhere inbetween. the times we got lost - but never really lost with you, you seem to know every road in america, every street in every city, you've traveled them all, the times we took the longest ways possible because it was prettier or even more remote. the times matt and i would roll down the window and make annoying sounds at the cows everytime we passed some in wyoming. eventually you had to lock the windows. do you remember the time at the hoover dam where we were all so annoyed with each other and in my mind, i thought, "my family might leave me here at the hoover dam." the time at the antietam battle field where we had the audio guide and either matt or i broke the tape and everyone hated each other because it was hot and we'd been in the car for too long. there was the time in maine where matt decided to make fun of your nose hair thinking it might loosen the tension in the car, but it only made you more angry. later we all laughed endlessly about it, but not then.
i remember when we were driving to yellowstone and i was 8 years old. matt and mom were asleep in the backseat. we got to the entrance, the one made out of stone. we drove under the arch with the quote from roosevelt, "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." i was so happy to be awake with you at that moment. i was always awake with you when mom and matt slept. i was gulided to the window, always, watching the landscape change, daydreaming and thinking and feeling everything i saw. reading the map, listening to music with you, listening to your stories about these places. you took us down the most crooked, bumpy dirt roads, sometimes ruining our rental car just to show us some place you'd read about in a novel or just to get a better glimpse of a mountain from the road.
so now we're riving from denver to moab. and eventually the road turns left. now there are mesas, so tall. walls so high and so red. we are driving along the colorado river. i am now an alien in a strange place - this is not pennsylvania. it is what the inner canyon looks like of the grand canyon. we are running out of gas. there is rock, so much rock. so big, so strong and the sun is shinning so brightly on the rock, on me, on the car. it was so beautiful that we were both speechless, or maybe we just repeated over and over, "oh my." we can see the la sal mountains peaking over the red mesas and strange towers of red rock.
the sun is so hot and so bright, my eyes are squinted nearly shut. i think i've left my sunglasses in the trunk. and then you reach your hand out across me. your put your hand up, and block the sun from my eyes. and there i am, a daughter with her father. your arm stretched out, driving only with your left hand now. and there i am again, a 4-year old driving to preschool on 5th avenue in pittsburgh, with my father blocking the sun from my eyes.