When did the definition of the long way really begin? Which came first, the interstate system or the long way?
The sun had set and we were riding through the in between time, the half light between night and day, the place between the softening pink of the disappearing sun and the growing purple of the coming darkness. The place before the primordial fear of the dark sets in yet after the boldness blinding daylight brings. Metaphorically, the place where real motorcyclists always ride, the grey space between paralyzing fear of danger and idiotic braggadocio.
In this instance, the sunset had been particularly glorious, in the mirrors for once. (Riding west at the peak of sunset is a damn nightmare, don’t let the instagram bikers fool you.) And now the sky was violet and the horizon a bleak sort of smudge of grey toned amorphous shapes. A bright flash of hot pink blurred by in the periphery. An oversized stuffed animal, a cat, bold neon pink under decades of wear and tear outside a junkman’s shop of some kind, I think. Myriad other reasons for a giant stuffed cat who has seen better days being bungie cord strapped to a chair roadside tickled my brain, but none of them seem highly likely in rural Oklahoma.
And then, sudden realization: I’ve taken the alternate interstate route both by motorcycle and truck to get to the same place (or thereabouts) we had just come from and it took longer than this, this the “long” way. Maybe not in miles, but in minutes of my life it took significantly longer. It was boring and drolled on and I was sold a bad bill of goods believing it took less time, trying to get to the destination more quickly,the in-between be damned.
An overpass and below, from the marine blue western horizon to the now blackened eastern skyline, six trickling lines of headlights, like sad out of season Christmas lights, twinkling lonely in the dark, one pair after another, three lanes east, three lanes west. They’ve been sold a bad bill of goods. They missed the pink cat.
We pulled into a lonely gas station to add a layer and watch the last blue of the in between disappear.