Black Tar Syndrome


Sometimes she can be your only friend. A cold, heartless friend; a warm and loving one.

A violent, twisted one. But she’s yours, and you adore her with a flame like no other. She beckons to you, begging for mutual adoration. Without you, she’d have no lore. No tales of her victories. She may act the whore– everyone uses her– but you can own her, part of her, for those glorious twilight hours when the world shuts down and all that can be left behind are your musings and desires. If she complains, it can be the death of you… or of others. When she does choose to kill, it is so often an extreme show of force: brutal, twisted and torn. Fabrics of existence ripped into nothingness, reduced to mere primordial leavings. But she’s yours. You love her.
There seemed to be more appreciation for such feelings for the road in the days of Burgess, Burroughs and Thompson. It was understood that in order to be successful in writing, there were some things you had to understand about life. Listening to the streets happens to be a recurring ideal. Much of the best written word has come about from a strange and beautiful combination of sleep deprivation, drugs, and driving. The world opens up to you in ways that it normally wouldn’t, as you are witness to the silent failures and achievements of society when on a late night crusade. Nothing else seems to come quite as close to understanding human nature, be it your own or whomever else is skulking about in the night.
Some people treat their commutes as harsh realities, things to be avoided. Nobody is really a fan of traffic jams and the resultant tardiness. It is pervasive and often enough is the cause of rage-fueled deaths. But when you choose to (and sometimes not, for happy accidents do occur) own the road for yourself, that’s when things make sense. To some, sadly, even a late drive is nothing– just another day, just another inconvenience. It takes a certain kind of personality, a distinctive mindset to truly love to drive or to be passenger. The kind that can find beauty when most see none, an intelligent set that knows what is important. Giving yourself that time to explore the inner workings of your own mind is necessary, especially for those types. I, for one, can spend days staring out of a window. No talking is needed. While music is an important part of the experience, it is not always absolute. It all comes down to the prosaic nature of the simple tar below you.
Death there is different from most. No matter what the cause, a car in twisted metal and flame always raises emotions in the passing drivers. The innocent run down on the road, left for refuse. Human viscera thrown from the steel carriage meant to transport, pulverized. It happens every day, yet we continue to trust our man-made mistress. We cannot help it. She brings out the best, and worst, of us– especially when some roads lead to death of other sorts, be it by the hand of man or their machines. The joy of driving can be lost in the banshee cry of a drug addict or an armed gunman. Sometimes though, under such circumstances, that’s when driving is at the peak of freedom. The act of leaving such a place with intent to never return is one of the most liberating feelings one can hope to strive for. Prolific though those ghettos may be, escape is possible.
A reminder of my childhood comes into play, here. My mother would often get me into the car late at night, turn up the radio (Aerosmith was oft the choice) and drive to nowhere. I’d thrust my head out of the window just to breathe in and feel the life around me. The world made sense during those times, no matter what hardships we were in the process of escaping for a few hours. All it takes is a clear night and a heavy mind to bring forth the writer, the artist, the genius or the horror found in all of us.
We are all suffering and surviving the human condition. It doesn’t have to be to our ruination, nor to our being afflicted with ennui. Taking steps to remember what we’re really here for, moments allowed to reflect on our own existences and the beautiful, silent world around us. Dreams and hopes can come and go, but the road is always there for you.
If the world can come together into coherency even amongst the rubble and chaos, even our deepest and most profound troubles can be assuaged for a time.
So… roadtrip, anyone?
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3 thoughts on “Black Tar Syndrome

  1. I'm leaving on the 7th, but I'm doing an unusual thing on this trip- flying, then roadtrip, then flying home 🙂

  2. But, like before, it's what has to be done. I don't mind though… the three hours to Jersey is a walk in the park when compared to England. 🙂

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