Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where I've Been

It's over twenty years at least since I read Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon.  If you've ever been a hitch-hiker, or someone who has for the sake of distance or mind travel taken to the road, you will like it.  The author gets fired from his job and is estranged from his wife when he decides to pack up his car, leave his home state of Missouri, and travel the circumference of the country.  He drives on "blue highways" not the interstate. He calls these second tier roads, "blue highways" because on old maps (remember them) the secondary roads were marked in blue.

You have to figure that a book that stays pretty fresh in the memory bank twenty years down the road-- so to speak-- has to be a good one.  It's not a page turner; the book is made up of the episodes of his travel. Stops in Texas, then off to another place on his odyssey.  A trip on route 2 in Montana or was it North Dakota is especially memorable.  So you can put the book down after one episode, and then pick it up without having to remember what happened in the previous chapter.

More than any individual episode in this travelogue, it's the line at the end of the book that is in my head and will never leave.

The author is nearly all the way back from driving thousands of miles on the periphery of the country. He is heading into Missouri, almost done, and is gassing up one last time before crossing into the Show Me state.

The gas station attendant, sees the Missouri plates, and asks, "Where You Coming from "Show Me"?

The answer: "Where I've Been."

The gas station attendant responds with a statement of truth in the form of a rhetorical question  "Where else."

Where else could anyone be coming from, but where we've been.  Our "travels" and our stops are the backdrop to our present.  A good reason to use a compass when we move about.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip. I'll order it this morning. Gene