The red dirt road of the rural south can be a hypnotic thing. The dusty haze envelopes my truck as I cruise into the unknown, giving an otherworldly appearance. This road trip is a spur of the moment decision, the best kind in my opinion. With no destination in mind, as the ground grows solid under my tires, I let the curve of the blacktop be my guide. The sun is streaming through the open roof, baking the top of my head. The wind dances through my long, curly hair, pulling it in all possible directions.
With a hot cup of coffee as my travel companion, anything is possible. The music of The Eagles propels me onward, encouraging me to take detours, to explore. I come upon the ruins of an old house with kudzu and ivy creeping up the front steps. The red bricks had long ago tumbled to the ground, leaving only the chimney to stand guard.
The house is small, and looks out over a field of soybeans across the red dirt road. The chaos in the rubble is sad to see, now just a pile of nothing, waiting for the Earth to reclaim it. I can’t help but wonder about the previous occupants. Was it a family with babies and dogs and a charming orange cat? Maybe it was a grumpy old man who sat on his porch watching the cars go by while he smoked hand-rolled cigarettes. Or maybe it was a young couple, just starting out, madly in love without a care in the world? What happened to them, these spirits of the house?
And what a view they must have had, looking out over the great green expanse. Farming soybeans and tobacco and cotton are as southern as Georgia peaches and bootlegged moonshine. Innumerable fields line the two-lane roads that are the veins of this region, forgotten by the mainstream because of the interstates and bypasses. These are the views of my childhood, growing up with the freedom to roam in the wilds of rural America. I would ride my pink, banana seat bicycle down the gravel road that split a soybean field, all the way to the levee on the banks of the Missouri River. Maybe that’s why I love to travel, to get out of the smothering city and back to the wide-open nothing.