Rockets, Mountains and Empty Roads
As I prepare for a semi-cross country road trip with my sister (NJ - CO), I’m getting excited thinking about the possibility of running into some old flames. A businessman from a hotel? No. A cowboy in Texas? No. I’m talking about rockets, mountains and empty roads.
These flames are unlike any of my current or former lovers. I don’t need to impress, flirt, or stalk them on Instagram like other crushes. My obsession runs deeper than that. They can excite me, scare me, and leave me breathless without doing a single thing. They aren’t crushes, they are colossal.
It started with rockets. A few year back, I found myself in Huntsville, Alabama at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. A space museum was something my dad would enjoy, not me. No, I ended up there because I was following a boy. A boy who, yes, I still credit for unlocking my sexuality but at that time I also thought he held the one and only key. It would take some time for me to discover that not only could this key be duplicated but it could take the shape of many people, places and soon-to-be things.
My feigned enthusiasm to impress my lover, soon turned into the real thing. I peered up the fuel-less skirts of missiles and rockets and felt a creepy, yet sensual, sensation come over me. I admired a Saturn 5 replica, read about the Explorer 1 detecting the Van Allen radiation belt (which my dad can tell you all about) and stood in awe of a gigantic Space Transportation System that while never actually having traveled to space, still left me dizzy.
The dizziness continued with the sight of the Apollo 16 command module that carried three men back to Earth in April of 1972. Right there in front of me was something that chilled in space, somewhere so far away from my own life, my own little body. I got goosebumps then, I get goosebumps now.
I wouldn’t experience a moment like that again until 3 years later on a work trip turned me trip. I extended time in Utah with a trip to Boise, Idaho to do...nothing. I had no intentions. I had nothing planned. I just wanted to drive.
As I started my journey to Idaho, I thought I made a mistake. I was hungover and not looking forward to a car ride. Thankfully my surroundings medicated all that. Out of my windows were very real, very big mountains. My headache disappeared as fits of laughter took over. Goosebumps. Smiles. I found myself singing (and enjoying) Kid Rock. Every song I would usually roll my eyes at suddenly seemed meaningful and perfectly-timed.
I was in a car commercial. I was in a video game. I was in a music video. I followed the sunset into the big sky where lonely hills (Or were they dunes? What is a dune?) led my way. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I knew the feeling in my body I was trying to capture wouldn’t be visible, but I had to try. I loved this. I got to my Airbnb and pondered how I could continue whatever this was into the next day.
The following morning, not knowing what to expect, I started driving towards a nature reserve I barely researched. The GPS stopped providing directions and instead showed me a squiggly line to follow. Signs and civilization disappeared and I found myself in the emptiest place I've ever been. There was nothing but me, my Weezer playmix and my body pulsing as it experienced a new, very intense version of being alone. I was sad. I was turned on. I wanted to share it with everyone and yet I also wanted to keep it to myself. I allowed my brain to think of getting a flat tire or running out of gas and screamed. But I wasn’t scared.
A few days later when I was back in New York, sitting on a crowded subway train, I put on the same music I had listened to during my drives out West. I felt tears well my eyes as I thought about that empty, lonely place my body had been and where it was now. Again I became sad. Again I was turned on. I thought about those spaces like an ex-lover, wondering what they were doing now. Who were the mountains guiding today? I wondered if astronauts look up at the sky and thought the same of the stars.
It’s easy to think of being horny as this moment where we become mushy-brained, goofy idiots grinding on the nearest hard surface we can find. Sure, that happens. But there are also the moments like above. The larger than life reminders of how lucky we are to feel even an ounce of pleasure as we inhabit a world where we are so insignificant. We credit our lovers and our vibrators for what the world has provided.
I’ve been taking sneak peaks on Google Maps of the roads and sights my sister and I will be passing soon (I guess you can stalk a colossal crush). I wonder how my flames will reveal themselves to me, especially considering the lack of space museums planned. Will it be a mountain? A sunset? A gigantic corn field in Kansas? An unexpected rainstorm forcing us to pull over? Honestly, I hope it’s all four but I’ll leave it up to you, world. You’re the one in charge here.
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