The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Roads and Rhinos

I’m driving at midnight, but I’m not too tired, not yet. Actually, I feel surprisingly alive. Maybe it’s because this is the busiest week of my life or maybe it’s just because I need to pee really bad.

It’s a two hour drive back from my friend’s play in Mill Valley, “Rhinoceros” by Eugène Ionesco. He starred as Bérenger, a man who refuses, for the longest time, to become a Rhinoceros despite everyone around him succumbing. Yet in the end his choice is uncertain. It was a good play; I’m still thinking about it.

And now I’m driving at midnight. I’m nearly alone on the road, except for the scattered lights red before me white behind, shining just bright enough for company in the mirrors. I was in San Diego yesterday and I’ll be in Georgia tomorrow; it’s a week on the road.

I’m trying to distract myself from the violent turbulent feeling in my bladder every time the old Volvo finds a bump. I’m trying vigorously to convince myself that, “No, it really wouldn’t be a good idea to urinate into the wheel well.”

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So I think more about roads; I’ve been thinking a lot about roads. I don’t think we appreciate them enough. What I mean to say is, imagine all the colossal effort and tons of cement humanity had to mix and paste six inches thick, like a giant grey middle finger to the dirt below.

Yet, we walk on them and drive on them and spend hours and hours on the roads paved to get from place to place so we can keep making new sorts of roads. In the end, it’s all just about getting somewhere. And our roads aren’t confined to the ground.

Imagine, there are roads in the air built of numbers, of wind currents and the words of air traffic controllers. Those ones scare me, but not so much as the big road. Autobahn highway signs would tell me there is no speed limit on the big road streaking through life, but I can’t read German. There are no yellow bricks on the big road.

There’s just choices, lots and lots of choices and far too little information to make any of them, but I can’t stop moving. I’m being catapulted on into college wrapped in a neat little package labeled “student,” but I only know what I’ve been told. I’m only following the forks in the roads that I can see and the turns come up so fast. I’m driving at midnight with only lights as company.

The night feels good and the stars are bright, but the road feels wrong. I’m just a boy sitting on the shoulders of giants among men and the road isn’t mine, it’s their’s. It’s the pathfinders, pioneers and forerunners of their field who made the roads, not the students.
To be a student is a transient career, one road that leads to many. But hardly anyone tells the students that there’s still unpaved space, still places left to explore.

I’ve been learning everything that’s already been learned before and it tastes slightly stale, it’s nutritious but something feels synthetic, like eating pre-chewed astronaut paste out of a aluminum tube. Or those veggie fries that no one really likes. In a sense, it’s roadkill.

As I drive, I imagine the day that the road is left behind, when I make a right turn in the wrong place and the car goes plummeting off into that which no one knows. A place where I need to get out and walk away from the clanking shell of molded metal to discover something that is truly new. The road less traveled is a road nonetheless, besides I’ve never really cared for Robert Frost, but to be roadless is to be free.

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