rocket without its faculties

I drove out to Dulles tonight to pick up a family member getting off an international flight.

driving right now is a challenge. I’ve tweaked my back a lot recently, and when I stay in a bendy-straw position for too long it begins to ache. the longer I stay bent, the more noticeable the ache gets. this feeling makes driving a distance akin to a tea kettle boiling. as the pressure ratchets up, I may drive a little more aggressively. I may. but I’m not admitting to anything.

I hadn’t planned on getting in the truck to drive out there this evening; I had spent the day out of the house, and it was hot as a mug and I had a load of laundry to do. but as my brother is fond of saying: we’re trying to have a civilization here. and he’s right. so when family gets off a plane somewhere nearby and needs a ride, you get up and you hustle. so that’s where I was this evening, cruising along the Dulles airport access road.

I hate that goddamn airport. okay, that’s strong; rather, I hate its location. it’s way out in northern Virginia, north of interstate 66, without decent access to public transportation. and maybe that’s what makes it feel as if the drive takes forever. and moreso when you’re cutting it short and trying to make a flight, and especially when your back hurts. and it did tonight so as I drove, I accordingly sped up.

the cab of my truck is a mess. I’m sorry, it is. there are cracked jewel cases everywhere. lots of scratched CDs. crumpled receipts, pens missing caps. but what really brings it all together is the inside of the front windshield, which I haven’t wiped down in over a year. it’s foul. yes.

in the right conditions, that shit is hazardous. some weekend mornings before work, I’ll turn news radio to listen to the drive-time reports — traffic on the eights on WTOP — to remind myself why I live here, in this spot in Washington DC (many reasons, but a top one is: easy commute). I’ve heard the reporter use the term, “sun glare,” to explain certain points of congestion out there in the network of hellish, car-clogged roads around the area. and I know what the guy’s talking about, because sun glare is real and that shit is awful. coupled with a dirty windshield, sun glare effectively renders the truck and I into a slow-witted rocket. or, at least, a rocket without all of its faculties.

but I countered. I zagged. I rolled the window down. I leaned into the door a little bit and rested on my left arm to expand my field of vision out of the driver’s side door. it was hot out today, and it was hot still when driving 60 mph with the windows open. “fuck you, back,” I said aloud, because I was on the cruise. and I fished an old Beck album out from behind the seat, turned up the volume and further ruined the bass on my factory-stock speakers.  my back ratcheted it up a few notches. and so I excelerated.

to be fair, that drive’s not that bad in the right conditions. in the right conditions, mind you. without traffic, and in the express lane. with a Beck album on the dial. it is rolling and uninterrupted.  the road takes you churning  through a large, planned community called Reston, and its small skyline of commercial office buildings, that you can see from the road. a parking garage attached to one of these complexes is dotted with pockets of landscaping — meaning, there’s an actual goddamn tree planted on top of the parking garage. I would assume this was a developer’s idea, to make this commercial real estate more green. the terrible and funny thing, though, is the powerful feeling you have, upon seeing such a sight, that that tract of land would be better served if it didn’t have a goddamn parking garage on it in the first place. but that’s probably just my creaky back talking.

at the end of the road, when you finally come around a long, rolling curve and the terminal comes into view, it’s actually kind of a neat sight. buttressed by the relief that you’ve reached your destination, no doubt. but the terminal does have a striking design. I would call  it cut from a year in the late 60s, with a long, concave roof. I wonder how an actual student of architecture might describe the building. I just call it space-agey.

and here it was that I pulled up. and my sister-in-law was at the curb, we threw her bag in the bed of the truck, and we were off.

of note: my friend Mike Smith is moving out here to take a job in my office. he gets here tomorrow. he will be staying with me for a few weeks until he gets settled. holy shit! it’s going to be 2006 all over again (read: a steady diet of take-out pizza, video games and a complete lack of the opposite sex). I am excited.

also of note: I spent last weekend up in Boston with my sister, Mary. and man was it great. easily the best couple of days I’ve had in a few months. she writes a blog too! hers is better. seriously, just read it, you’ll see.


1 comment so far

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