The road from Brooklyn, NY to Plymouth, MA is a little over 250 miles, and I have come to know it well. This road, lined with office buildings and gas stations and transient glimpses of Long Island Sound, has become my sort-of Walden.
Scenically challenged though it may be, I have grown fond of this road. It either signals excitement and trepidation (on the way to New York) or calmness and relief (on the road back home.) In the 6 weeks since I moved, I have made this trip five times, always to perform a show back home in New England.
The first trip to New York was early on Sunday morning, the day after Halloween. I don’t remember what was going through my head. On one hand, I was only going to be gone a few days, as I had a show in Rhode Island a few days later (See: On Sucking) but I also knew that part of me had changed forever. Though I had lived all over the country for two years after college, I had spent the last 8 months living at home in Plymouth and I think I knew then that I would never go back. Not permanently at least. I may rue the day I said this: but I felt (feel) my days living at home with my mother - were over.
It takes a dozen directions to make it from my house in Plymouth to the highway, and double that off the highway to my apartment in Brooklyn, but in Connecticut there is one. Get on I95 South and go 110 miles. This leaves me ample opportunity to indulge in daydreaming and contemplation. Usually I go over the show that I am returning from. Sometimes I go back triumphant, racing to New York City and ready to show them what I can do. After a bad show however, I go back apprehensive, slowly making my way through Connecticut passing town after town I would rather live in then foreboding, fearsome New York.
I make sure to stop at a rest area just west of Clinton, Connecticut, even if I have no reason to. Because I am obsessively nostalgic, I stop at the same one every time, and each time I feel I’m recapturing my youth. It’s one of those all-purpose rest stops, ubitqitous on freeways all over the country. I manage to somehow park in the same spot every time, and when I enter I throw a quick head nod to whoever is working the little convenience store, as if they would ever recognize me. The bathrooms are expansive, with several low-hanging urinals lining the back wall. Since there are no partitions between each one, even one other man in the bathroom means I am forced into the stall to take a leak. I just can’t handle the pressure.
With my coffee in hand, I will usually sit in the food court and watch people go by, wondering about them. Connecticut isn’t the Wild West, so a good many of them probably stop here on their daily commute, merely miles from home. But I wonder about some. At this point, a lot more lies ahead going south then it does in the opposite direction. Perhaps some people are making their escape, migrating to warmer climates. No one talks to anyone, too enamored with their Big Macs or too scared of murderous drifters out scoping their next mark.
After leaving Clinton, I’m about two hours from Brooklyn. At this point, the first bit of New York stations appear on the airwaves, rescuing me from the drivel that is Mid-Connecticut radio. New York’s shadows looms thicker and thicker as I continue west. The stickers on the cars gradually change from Red Sox to Yankees and it is clear Western Conn. is more New York then New England. And even though each time - each mile farther from home - I’m a little scared, as soon as the impressive Manhattan skyline appears over the Whitestone Bridge, I realize I’m heading in exactly the right direction.