Whenever I visit my friend, Jules, holiday house down south I am struck by a feeling of carefree recklessness as I drive along the highway. Highways do that to me. I think they are the single greatest man made metaphor for change. All those people going somewhere, coming back from somewhere, throws an irresistible tonic of exhilaration up into the air. I want to put a sign through the sun roof, complete with streamers and flags that says : Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long.
I like how the scenery changes the further you get out of the city.
The houses, so closely packed together in the inner city, begin to spread further and further apart with each kilometre that is thrown behind us.
Blocks of farmland appear, quickly as dots. Farmers gaze down on autumn pastures, still as an oil painting. I realise that it’s really only the poets or the songwriters who can successfully describe the scenery that changes swift as blinking.
We see tractors, cows, sheep, grain silos. We wonder how the livestock can digest the grass bleached blonder than a Hollywood starlet’s hair. We cheer at the free range chicken farm and boo and hiss at the one with cages.
We give a thumbs up sign to fellow drivers who are listening to Kings of Leon like us, switching over to Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. All of a sudden two carloads of people who are strangers bond over the opening lines, singing like friends:
Get your motor runnin’
Get out on the highway
We see a man and woman arguing, looking at a map upside down; and laugh as two kids whose Dad has pulled over to the side of the road, pull down their pants and present us with their flaming white butts.
The sound of traffic, continuous as breathing, is comforting as the wind brushing the windows at night. We wish the highway could be like the ever expanding horizon so we could always drink in the laughter and sense of eternity it brings.
But as we near our destination the highway ends and the single lane country roads appear. The bush grows right up to the edges of the road. We look out for kangaroos, wombats crossing. Kookaburras, cockatoos, magpies chart our course. We must be careful of the sudden bends in the road, the country traffic cops who lurk at railway crossings, whom we have learned from bitter experience have no sense of humour when it comes to Sydneysiders.
The rush, the pace, the sensation of flight has ended; but there are other joys to be had on these country roads full to the brim with sights and sounds that throw colour into the day.
And at the end of the road, jumping with glee, is an old friend, her face as welcoming as a lamp left on at night in a window; who reminds us that no matter how joyful the journey there is nothing like arriving home.