Driving to Buffalo last weekend gave me lots of time to think and what I was thinking about was how you get into a sort of parallel universe on a long drive like that. What I mean is, at our first stop, I had a chance to watch the backs of at least ten people in the ladies' room before I got my turn. When we got to our next stop, I tuned in again. But it was at our third stop, that I recognized a number of women from earlier stops. There was the young woman with the interesting jeans, the mom and her two little girls, and the Indian woman in a beautiful sari. Though I hadn't noticed them at all in passing or passed cars, we had obviously not only been traveling in parallel, but stopping in parallel as well. How odd to feel so separate, sitting in our car, but to be perfectly connected in time with these others and to wonder if they too, noticed the connection. Had any of them been in one of the cars going exactly the speed I wanted to go, so that I just stuck behind them for miles and miles? Or were they in one of the cars that zoomed past but then slowed until I passed again. I started trying to imagine what our trip down the thruway would look like from above, if each car was a numbered stripe. Would there be sort of a herd of cars that stayed together? How many cars would you only see once as they passed or once as you passed them? Were lots of people going the length of the Turnpike and Thruway like us, or did some become part of the herd just for a few exits? You'd have all these stripes of cars going along, sometimes merging, sometimes separating and a few single stripes shooting through and disappearing.
On the way back, I tuned in to a different parallel universe beside us as we drove along. While I wasn't at the wheel, I kept my window down and my camera poised to connect for just a moment or two, with barns and houses where daily life was going on. Instead of stripes moving along together, I pictured this universe again as parallel stripes, but stationary and perpendicular to our moving ones. At each point I intersected for the blink of an eye, but they were likely unaware of my presence at all.
I tell you it all made the trip seem a lot shorter and a lot more interesting.