Something I like about being an Arizonan:
1. Driving in open places with no one in sight… and knowing where I’m driving.
Driving home from another county, I was reminded of something I really like about having lived in this state for 17 years: I know where I’m going. It’s really easy to navigate our roads here because our streets are organized in a grid-system. In a rarely visited town, the landscape is almost identical to that in my city, so corresponding roads are easily followed by my intuition.
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For almost 40 minutes, I drove west towards my home, situated in the southernmost tip of my city’s suburb. It was such a quiet ride: all surface streets, no freeways, and perfect to clear my head. Drives like this one make up one of several reasons that make me appreciate living out in BFE*.
The first road I turn on, I can’t even pronounce it’s name. I recognize the street name when I read it inside my mind, but I associate the name with a place of considerable distance east. The type of far that’s like when someone tells you it’s her crossroad, you think, “jeez, I really have to drive out there?” As I turn back onto one of the main roads out here, I think about how it’s the same road that’s always avoided in my city. Where I live, this road is constantly under construction, but not out here. The road stretches so far into empty surroundings, perfect for driving home in the earliest hours of a Monday morning.
I drive at a solid 54 MPH from Point A and into the town – pitch black the entire way, besides the light emanating from my car’s headlights. I didn’t pass very many cars on either sides of the road, but the cars I did pass, I thought about: Is she going home? Is he going to work? I wonder how many of you are considering your life’s disagreements on our rides back home right now… We all share the same space, but with different intentions. I love that truth.
My mind fell off track, as street lights appeared and speed limits decreased. I’ll admit I don’t know much about my state’s history, but I imagined I was driving through the heart of the older town; where it had expanded from. I drove on. The road’s pavement crackled underneath my car’s tires and the white lines on the ground drew closer. I felt okay doing the speed limit, 30 MPH, which is somewhat rare for someone slim of patience.
The speed limit increased again after about 10 minutes. Residential neighborhoods began sprouting up quickly on the land that paralleled the road. The road came to the end of its first half and spat me out onto a more familiar road in another city. That’s another thing about our roads too. Many of them are cut in half, so they aren’t through roads. This is confusing for someone who just moved here, as learning where roads start/end and how the names change according to which city the roads run through takes constant repetition. Although, once it’s understood, it’s very easy to remember.
Driving back on the direct route to my house, almost no one was on the road. When it’s like this, late at night with no one on the road but me, I get this post-apocalyptic feeling. Aside from the street lights, I feel as if I’m the last person existing in this area. It’s an eerie feeling, but I like it a lot: driving on an open, empty road late at night, my music just whispering through the speakers, while my mind bounces from thought to thought. It’s incredibly therapeutic and relaxing. Driving and thinking.
That thought just brings my story full-circle: One reason I love my state is because of the empty roads that border the edges of my city, which, at strange hours, lack human population. These late night drives are the perfect setting for deep thought. Sometimes, I really like living in BFE.
* BFE is an acronym that refers to a location that is “out in the middle of nowhere.” – Arizonans get it.