mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I can't drive 55....

via instapundit comes a great look at the positives of the interstate highway system.

It's an article that hits home because I'll be making the drive from Baltimore to central New Jersey in about 24 hours, to spend Thanksgiving and a couple days after with the family.

The drive to NJ is one I've made literally dozens of times. Unlike most MD to NJ travelers, I avoid I-95 in favor of a lesser-known trio of interstates - I-83 to I-81 to I-78. My Dad liked this route and, convinced it was safer, told me I had to use it if I wanted to take my car to college. It grew on me - I know the best places to get coffee and cheap gas. It's become familiar, and I find myself actually looking forward to making the four-hour or so trip - it's a chance to see the world between NJ and MD, a cross section of gritty mini-cities like York and Harrisburg and tiny farming towns, a mix of modern Wawas and Sheetz with rows of pumps and 30 kinds of coffee and tiny tumble-down one-pump gas stations. It's sort of a third place - not my parents house, where I occasionally feel smothered, or my townhouse, where I sometimes feel lonely. It's just me, machine, and miles of pavement, my music on the stereo, a cup of coffee in the cupholder, and one home ahead and the other behind.

It's a trip I've made in 7 different years, in five different vehicles (the three that have been mine - an '87 LeBaron, an '02 PT Cruiser, and now an '06 Ranger, and two of my parent's - a '93 Acclaim and a '98 Voyager). Sometimes I've headed to NJ feeling sad, unsure of where I wanted to be with my life, and sometimes just glad to get a break and see the family. Sometimes I've headed to Baltimore full of hope - freedom, release - and sometimes with dread for the grind that life sometimes is. But mostly it's just life - two different places, with different people and different things. It's a trip I hope to keep making, and hopefully for good reasons.

As a kid, Thanksgiving wasn't a big deal to me - a couple days off and some turkey, and in high school a day I had to put on a band uniform and play for a football game in the cold. But when I hit college, it became something important - a chance to see family, to get a break from the world I live in now and return to the one that I used to live in. It's all the joys of Christmas without all the hype. It doesn't demand the reverance of religion or the commercialization of gift giving. It's just food, family, and a celebration of what you have.

Granted, it has one disadvantage from Christmas - it's in the tail end of a semester, which means that I'll be doing homework for part of the time, and I'll have that over my head - although this will be the last year I'll have to worry about that unless I decide to get a second Master's degree). But it's still one of my favorite holidays, my favorite reasons to make that drive.


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