12.19.2008

Lost highways: North Carolina to Connecticut

It's an allusion (not "illusion", ie, Ponzi scheme), one can know exactly where one is, as in 'location', and still be 'lost', as in 'lacking direction.'

I spent a week aimlessly driving around the 'new' South. When I drove to my Dad's place from Wilmington I headed inland from the heavily developed North Carolina coastal areas (waiting for a hurricane to come along and return things to the original state of nature) and cut across on a rural highway, a flat agricultural landscape dotted with trailers propped up on cinderblocks and billboards advertising pork products. The lack of hills made it feel quite different from home and the featureless horizon was quite disorienting.

In North Carolina, I think that that Havelock (home of Cherry Point MCAS) and Jacksonville (Camp Lejune and other installations) are about as far removed from Vermont as possible, culturally speaking: Pawn shops, strip clubs, churches and innumerable fast food establishments, it's almost like being in a foreign country compared to Vermont. A bumper sticker seen in a military surplus store summed up the rather warlike ethos of the place quite concisely:

US Special Forces: Death is our business, and business is good

But the perimeter fences surrounding military housing are marked with homemade banners welcoming service members back from long deployments, and there have been many causalities from this decade's various conflicts -- the Marines pride themselves on being the tip of the spear.

And once it was time to drive northwards with a purpose I used a basic digital camera to amuse myself on the long (1100 miles) gray trip.

Central Lunch, Goldsboro, North Carolina

Billboards along the highway in the Allegheny mountains, Pennsylvania, a blasted, post-industrial landscape recalling a time when coal was mined, and steel was forged, in the United States.

Crossing the Hudson, near Newburgh, New York

Even though it was the holiday season it seemed that the mood everywhere was one of foreboding and a grim anticipation of what comes next, I tried to put anxiety about the future out of my mind but wasn't entirely successful. The annual December bacchanal of consumerism isn't nearly as festive this year, not that I ever really bought into it anyways.


Lost highways: North Carolina to Connecticut, Dec. 2008 from JG on Vimeo.

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