THE PLAYLIST: road to sc
this is a mix, sort of. on the drive from new York to Charleston I put my Zune on shuffle and let it play whatever songs I had on there in the order it chose. randomly. it was fine. seeing as it’s only 30gb, most of the stuff I put on there is deliberate. not too much random stuff that I’ll want to skip through. and the drive took about 16 hours. I’m surprised that I only listened to about 178 songs, or something along those lines. these 25 are songs that I wrote down in my moleskine as particular tracks that seemed to match the mood of that particular moment. thought the way that they’re playing here are not set up in the order that they played in the playlist. no, this is more of an audible chart of how my brain started to fall apart on the trip down.
I left at an absurd time, something like 6 or 7 in the morning. before anyone had woken up. and at this stage, all I’m thinking of is the distance. the amount of time I’ll be in the car is sort of hanging in the background, but nothing about what life often passes within that time period. meals, interactions, walking, standing, muscle utilization. even little things that your eyes do that prevent them from droning off into a horizon.
and that’s what the first portion of these songs represent. (at the drive-in – ticklish) excitement and a positive attitude. strapping into a cockpit. this song was actually the first one that came on after about 7 of them that felt like it really propelled me into an excited state of mind. a setting off into a new life. and the sun is coming up and there isn’t much traffic and everything is completely fresh. this is just a drive and it’s going to be far away. (mae – runaway) finally hitting a straight pitch of freeway and not having to even change any lanes to go around any cars going too slow. just mellowing behind some guy doing 70. it’s not cold and it’s not hot. and I have my window barely down and I’m cruising. this is while I’m leaving long island, you know (hot rod circuit – knees) and I’m feeling my hands beat on the steering wheel in some kind of rhythm that is SORT of what the drums in the song are doing.
(Manchester orchestra – virgin) and then it starts to get a little dicey somewhere when you start to hit the boroughs, and the bridges. it gets a little more abrasive. I go into my head a little bit. I’m hitting some stand still traffic. using my head more, a lot more concentration going on, a lot less of that whimsy. (as cities burn – this is it, this is it) getting a little aggressive. merging when you have to, not letting people merge when they shouldn’t be, or rather when they should have when they had that chance. when you saw them choose not to. that competition of driving, that sort of lesson teaching that you try to do by your gates of allowing people in and not allowing people in, patiently waiting for them to say the right thing with their blinker or with their usage or lack of braking. especially when things are so incredibly dense as people are leaving the NY metro area, hitting those bridges, hitting those tunnels. (dredg – the tanbark is hot lava) choppy, terrible post-construction. destruction. and I start getting stressed a little about my car being a bit on the older side, though maintained. caring and then thinking about not caring and then ultimately not caring. still daytime, still a long way to go. still, absolutely positive. because despite “NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE DOING” [- everyone, to everyone] I’m leaving. and I’m on zero time table. this is my own time. and for me, that’s enough sometimes. if there’s nothing on the other side of anything that says I have to be anywhere by anytime, I’ll often feel MORE motivated, more proactive, more fluid, more alright with anything and anything else and everything else in the in between. (letlive – renegade ’86)
and traffic lets up and things feel good and despite the fact that I’m alongside what feels like legions of cars going to the same exact place, they’re going the speed THAT I LIKE THEM TO and that I want them to. and we’re a rolling force moving ahead. getting to that jersey turnpike, everyone is going the same direction as fast as they possibly can. and with purpose. feeling good again, feeling like I can get my bearings again. can get the sun under me and in me and along me again. roaring with the music. banging my steering wheel to where I can almost feel the feedback from not only the soft plastic wheel, but the entire column gonging back at me, and the tires lipping back asphalt. passing over every number white line on the turnpike. and only changing lines to go around families in mini vans or people learning how to drive moving vans with their nerves on their fingers. (mindless self indulgence – wack) dancing in the driver’s seat. and then 295 south. something like 90 minutes of blasting in one direction. (kanye west – diamonds) pacing yourself becomes important in a way, sort of only taking on about an eighth of this trip, and getting out of the most populated area that you’re going to drive through, the most types of directions you’re going to change until you’re in the area where you’re going to have to learn new streets in a matter of minutes. where google maps tells you you have to turn on a new road that might not be named that road anymore in 1.3 miles that feels different in every city and every town and in every different landscape. trees going forever. highway laid so strategically and surrounded so permanently by forests. and I’ve always wanted to see some kind of nature in those tree beds, but it’s only ever evergreen backdrop.
(the strokes – happy ending) looking back in my backseat, almost everything aside from every SINGLE piece of media is coming with me. clothing. video game consoles. bunch of books, bunch of games, all the blu rays. uploading into a new state, a new city, a new configuration. these are going to be hanging in different closets. stored on different shelves. watched alongside a new set of eyes, with a new voice to echo reactions off of. and the sun is up up there somewhere and it’s still September. warm. we’ll have a chance to see the new place as it’s alive. not just someplace that we’re living, but someplace that it’s blooming. driving 80. sometimes 90, but then I get nervous a little bit about the car falling to pieces right there under me and I’m left scooting around on some kind of go kart or maybe a wheel flies off of an axel and I’m sent rolling into an embankment or a ditch. (days away – knows my name) people saying “did you see that, what happened?” and I’m just someone that fucked up on the side of the round in a burning mound and then sirens become more of the story than the guy who was going 80 or sometimes 90 but only by mistake. not really mistake. but you know, rolling ahead, and just foot on the gas and feeling good. feeling fine. just going fast. and looking at the clock being the absolute worst thing you can do, because the only thing you can feel is that you’re making good time, because you’ve been doing it for so long and you’re far away from where you originated. (ghosts and vodka – bizarre funeral) and you’ve been going so fast with no stops at all. the way you wish you could drive to work with no lights and no traffic. driving to work SO FAST so that you’re NOT LATE and you ABLE TO DO WORK earlier than you would have if there was standard traffic. and you’re unfortunately feeling so surprised every time things go exactly the same way as they’ve always gone. driving out and open like this, really, everything is a surprise, but NOTHING is a surprise because there’s no expectation. on such a long stretch, it’s all new, and so often. every time I’ve taken on this stretch of the turnpike and then 295 and then 95, I have a bit of nostalgia. I drove to Richmond a bunch of times in that red ford probe. and then that jetta. and drove to DC in a Nissan filled with people. and it always feels very open and sort of similar and I always feel like I want to see the Baltimore ravens’ football stadium.
(silversun pickups – well thought out twinkles) going 80 and sometimes 90 by mistake. in the car for hours on your own. literally could go anywhere at this rate. always thinking about how easy it would be to do this in a brand new car that never needed any bit of maintenance, that has never given an issue and that is far from its first hiccup. always some weird guessing game. but still out there in the open and exploring. remember that driving around was a thing when I was 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. but there weren’t these bridges and these wide wide wide open national straight aways, but there were beaches and towns and a lot of street lights and almost no chance of getting lost. super nostalgic feelings of being out on the road. of looking over at someone and laughing at something. but moving ahead towards a new collective. (radiohead – stop whispering) making a huge change and taking a huge chance. no matter how sure it feels, it’s still a major risk. diving off of the high dive into a safe, deep pool. still a bit of fear. not TERRIFIED. I’d love to see more people have something to completely go off onto an island for. just to give something completely unsure a chance. like driving or quitting or flying or telling or leaving or fighting. standing up. five hours, six hours alone on this trip and a lot of the drive is so fast and it feels so far and it feels so right and it feels so good but it feels like your favorite episode of your favorite show on forever without commercial breaks. (saves the day – you vandal) but the directions say 12 hours, so we’re halfway there but the clock said that, but the map says something else and the number of miles left doesn’t match the amount of time left and you start to want to feel comfortable in the sun and the car and the warmth and the earth but it’s getting a little crazy. (everyone everywhere – blown up grown up) and could it be that maybe I didn’t follow the directions properly? no, absolutely not. getting on i-95 and that’s the same stretch I’m going to be on for 400 miles, or 450 miles or 464 miles or four hundred and sixty four miles, there’s no way I’m going to get lost. not going to do a damn thing but drive. just drive on this forever.
(blonde redhead – maddening cloud) until it starts to get a little dusky. and I’ve stopped at a couple of rest stops, and it’s been gorgeous, just sitting on the side of the road in the sun in Virginia and taking pictures of the trees there and the sky there and the Americans there. calling friends. texting people to catch up, the people you just saw yesterday or before yesterday who you won’t see for months. acting like, oh, yeah, it’s not a big deal, I’m just out. the rationalization being, for me, you went from the womb until we met without meeting me and you’ve been fine, so why wouldn’t you be fine after you’ve met me and now you’re living the same way? sort of the type of thinking that I’d adopted while driving my life alone and living with friends in friends’ houses and rented houses and rented apartments and being alone in each of them, but completely not. (l’altra – say wrong) really slowly drifting off on a floe and misunderstanding that I’m part of the society that I’m trying to study by disappearing into it and out of it and assuming nothing applies to me because I’m just a standardization and a generalization and a dramatization and a flick of binary. I’m just out.
but you hit that pull of i-95 and day groans into dusk. no matter how good you want that piece of light to become, you swallow it into a pit and you start to drift into this dark place. same activities, your foot weighing down on two different pedals, making little personalities based on the cars and how they’re driving, and what they’re saying on the license plates and stickers and the hats they’re wearing and the number of people in the car. the color of the car. whether or not something is hanging from the windshield. you’re competing with these people. taking it so personally when they’re passing you, or chasing them to pass them. interchanges, traffic patterns shifting. still tapping your fingers. still nodding your head. I’m making it down the coast. (American football – honestly?) trucks seem so much bigger. their lights seem brighter and indicative of something hidden. rolling forward. and I get down i-95 and I get out of Virginia and I’m in north Carolina. there are only two Carolinas and I’m into one, so I’m in one half of the Carolinas so I’m BASICALLY already there. so around 1:50 of this song, this American football song called honestly?, this is where it all starts to feel exactly this way. when you say “it’s only this far away.” or when you give in to the concept of almost. it’s this. it’s the monotony. and it speaks to you by repeating itself. and you seek a meaning in the repetition of it. or you try to limit what it means by reducing it to the lowest common denominator. because there are so many of the same things happening, that you feel it can be folded in on itself like a blanket and skip the iterations because it’s the same thing and it’s going to get shorter. this is the equivalent of the concept of JUST. why don’t you JUST. it’s JUST three hours. eyes go crossed. I’m starting to lose it here, in the dark, with these massive trucks, but I’m in north Carolina. and there’s all this time behind me and all this distance and I’m so far, and I’ll be back and I’m JUST out and I’m going to be somewhere new soon and day was just here and the same thing is happening and I’ll skip it by JUST continuing to do it for the same amount of time.
(brother sun, sister moon – ghosts of barry mill) night becomes a startling calm when you get the truth of it. thinking over it and over it is not reducing it but rather empowering it. and there’s a new boost in the cycle. something feels motherly and wombly. dead sleep but with the senses on. eyes as heavy as crushing undercurrent. (trent reznor and atticus ross – the same as the others) everything is ticking and everything is waves. there’s a digital watch alarm in the background, packed away somewhere and calling to you the same way it’s putting you to sleep. wheels coming out distinctly, like pristine woodwork against the headlights in the darkness. the tread standing still. the trees cascading into the horizon that you only pick up when you pass by a city or an habitat that’s way beyond the distance, way beyond the places you’ll ever be. holding down the gas and wishing it was an escape pod, just pulsing you forth. the pep talk becomes based upon simply staying awake. making deals with an inertiatic devil, begging for the willpower to push on, begging your body to do the idle work while your brain could just navigate the breathing, the pulse, the blood pumping. (trent reznor and atticus ross – please take your hand away) cars passing you and wondering how they’re doing it still. hoping they’re understanding. eyes on the clock every ten minutes becomes every seven minutes. the time you’re expecting to arrive there just a mistake, just some lie you told yourself. not even motivation anymore, just an impossibility. want it dead. the rotating cylinder of sound on the inside of some bigger cylinder packed quietly away behind some sound muting chamber still holding you tightly and swinging you in large, wide circles. heavy and spherical weight. the body even further from doing the work for you, the mind even further from staying focused. too distracted to think of distractions. sensory deprivation. reading braille for the first time. hands starting to feel like a constant vibration, the wheel shaking because the column is shaking because the tires are reflecting the speed and the asphalt. you are promised you are going to die by going over the side of some device. going careening into a ditch. trucks weaving to miss something and putting you into a chaos. a deer becoming a missile. and then there are only two lanes. and you’re in south Carolina. and there are two lanes. and there are trucks going faster than thought.
(health – severin) I can’t tell what’s going on anymore, but we’re going very fast and I’m not at all comfortable with it. like when the shoulder pads go down and there’s that moment where you feel the slight tug of some under wire on a roller coaster. it’s coming and you have no control. but there’s the body and there’s the brain and there’s all the crossed signals that are yelling at you like the poor from the sides of roads in third world countries. haywire. haywire. you can’t mess this up because you’re almost there and it’s dark and they’re calling on you and everything is going so fast and NOW’s the time they’re keeping you in a traffic grid again and NOW’s the time that you have to be a uniform distance from the other machines and maintain a uniform speed so you don’t disrupt the manifestation of a traffic parade that’s converged from every corner. and paranoia starts to become a new mode on top of the exhaustion because I feel like I’m the only one who’s never been here before and these are all of the envoys from every other place there could be and these are the ambassadors that are showing me that I’m doing it wrong on this particular road.(palms – Patagonia) and I want out. there is no ocean anywhere near here yet, there is no place that makes sense of what I’m seeing. but I feel surrounded by water. the road is dark and the periphery is dark and everything except what’s directly in front of me is black and almost reflective of all of the darkness reflecting itself. there is no moon, only headlights behind me and brake lights in front of me. I pull off into a rest stop because I’ve had enough and I need to have a moment of give up. a second to know it’s over. and I put my head to a pillow and I can’t stop from twitching. all of the reactions that have built up but have been subdued are glitching my muscles now that they’re not suspending a fatality. where I thought my eyes closing would bring sleep right away, I notice that there’s way too much adrenaline or spirit or inertia or life inside my veins to make that a possibility. it’s having the shortest REM cycles and the briefest dreams and haunts gasping and running across the stage. I feel cursed. I feel like an actor who’s trying to act like they’re having a nightmare on a television show. I feel torn into specific threads of muscle and separated into harp strings. sleep never comes. but I feel unwound, I feel without tension and without ripples in an ever reaching pool. I regain a sense of calm. I realign with my vehicle, with the land, with myself. (sigur ros – eg anda) there’s no panic anymore. there’s no fear.
and I turn on the headlights again and turn the car on again and there’s a stretch of grass ahead of me that I can still picture, and I reverse out of the parking spot, and switch into drive for the final pull. i-26. forever however long. the traffic pocket has collapsed. it’s just myself. and I eventually catch up with what seems like a news van. and it’s driving 65 and I’m driving 65. and I’m not passing it. I truly submit to getting there tomorrow or a week from tomorrow or in a month. and I turn my phone off because they’re calling and getting my timeline to shake the earth beneath me. and I’m behind this van that feels like it’s the only thing on the road besides and despite myself. and I can’t even tell if it’s real, because its consistency is jarring but feels like salvation. there are no cars behind us, not as far as I can tell, just an endless cipher. lightless static. twenty miles before I’m there, and the van pulls off. and I know my next exit. (earth – hung from the moon) and there’s a countdown now. I cross a bridge, I cross actual water, and I can see the deep orange of lights reflecting off of it and I can smell the biology of the ocean of it and how salty it is, like the garbage has floated to the top and it smells deep and alive and I feel like I’m escaping the whale. there’s a long bend left and the long bend right and then the exit surfaces. I get off of the highway that’s lasted since the birth of hell, and pull off into what seems like stock footage from the surrounding areas of the towers on The Wire. but it looks human and inhabited, even at midnight, even this late, even though there is no one outside. there’s a gas station that looks gutted and rusted and dried up that I park in and call and try to get my way to the final place I’ll park for the night. I have to cross train tracks and follow the road right and make a sudden right into a parking lot and then I have to stop my car and meet the people that have been waiting for me for what has felt like my entire life.
and none of this was significant. it was a drive on a road. but it was solitude and it was hollow. it was muscle absolution and obedience. for days, my hands felt rapid vibrations, almost pins and needle numbness. I felt like a landed satellite. 785 miles of tunnel or space or prayer or function. and I’d made it.