“There’s a feeling you get driving down from Casper at night from the north, and not only there, other places where you come through hours of darkness unrelieved by any lights except the crawling wink of some faraway ranch truck.”
~ Annie Proulx, “A Lonely Coast,” from the collection Close Range: Wyoming Stories
Memory of a Long-Ago Road Trip
The road ahead is lit only by the lights of my car. The road behind is dark, as if I am driving out of one void into another, only the yellow stripe in the road to guide me. The open sunroof lets in the cold air and the black sky pricked with stars. Music plays on the radio, a western station out of Reno, Patty Loveless live from some casino where the lights are bright and the gaming tables don’t know night from day. I am far enough east of Reno that the Biggest Little City in the World no longer dims the intensity of starlight on a moonless night. I sip hot coffee from a paper cup, letting it warm my palm as I watch a truck come out of the blackness ahead, lit up like one of the gaudy showgirls on a bright casino stage. The truck grows large, blinding me with its lights before we exchange the cold air between us that rocks my little car. Patty Loveless goes silent in a wave of static, her voice moving in and out of the growing distance between me and that city full of people. Ahead of me the darkness grows deeper, the yellow line an umbilical cord from this womb of a car to the vast desert merging with the dark sky. I am grateful for the warmth of this cup in my hand, the smell of coffee, the flutter of wind through the open sunroof as my car parts the desert dark.