Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sounds Like Freedom

Another long day of driving just to get back where I started. It wasn't exactly an Odyssey but it was a round trip with sea creatures -- we watched a pod of dolphins swim lazily by yesterday -- and interesting locales as well.
We went inland a bit last evening to find a place to eat open on a Sunday night off season. We found a little joint nestled down on the banks of some tidal river just around the corner from Poverty Place, a road that leads directly into a trailer park. I kid you not. We left the car in the parking lot of The Place Across the Street, or so the sign said.
As sometimes happens in such out of the way places, the food was excellent and the atmosphere was rural southern. I can drawl with the finest East Tennesseans if called upon, so rural Carolinian is not much of a stretch.
Our waitress asked where we're from and we told her. She told us she was heading to Virginia to visit a friend this weekend and was looking forward to it because she'd never been before. Arlington may have seemed down right exotic to her, although I'm not sure it would be any more strange to her than the back water -- literally -- was to us.
The distance between here and there can be bridged in half a day of driving, but the gap is larger than that in ways that resist such easy measurement. On the other hand, the historical markers here and there along the way remind one of other great distances traveled in these same parts.
The signs tell of Civil War campaigns, including the final march to Appomattox. They also carry place names -- Carolina, Virginia, Plymouth, Chinquapin -- that recall the American Revolution, the colonial era, European settlements and native peoples before.
How did we get here from there? Who along the way would have predicted it? Had those who fought and died in the various wars along the way known what was to come on that ground their lives hallowed would they have thought it worth the cost of those lives?
How strange would the trailer park look to them? How strange Arlington? How strange the road between the two -- Interstate 95, and smaller routes -- and the tens of thousands of vehicles speeding along at speeds unimaginable until quite recently in the sweep of time?
The Marine base Camp Lajeune and its ancillary airfield dominate the landscape along the coast and dozens of miles inland just a couple of miles north of Poverty Place, just as Quantico stands out on I-95 a bit south of Arlington. We saw quite a few helicopters buzzing along the coast over the weekend, and a few military jets screamed overhead this morning. We passed the main gate for the airfield today. Their sign said, "Pardon our noise. It's the sound of freedom."
It sounded a bit more like empire to me, and I'm sure that's not a sound that would have rung familiar to those whose lives are suggested by the signs along the way. But the road? It sounds like freedom, and I think those who came before us would recognize that sound even when it comes from a Harley or an 18-wheeler or the family minivan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unable to give you a heart. so have a reply to push up your post. ........................................