The road is where travel happens—it’s not in a resort or a hotel room, or on a plane or boat, or even a car or horse. The road is where I travel. Where I am not the passenger, but the traveler. Where I am not traveling in a vessel, but I am the vessel. Where nothing stands between me and the road because I am literally standing on the road.
It’s where boots and gravel meet each other and find they have a lot in common. They compare each other: they’re both worn down, they’ve both covered thousands of miles; they’ve both started out black and have faded into a dull gray. They understand each other. The road has been stamped with so many footprints that I wonder which has seen more walking—the boots or the road. These boots have collected so many pieces of gravel from every road they’ve walked on that I wonder which has more gravel—the road or the boots.
The road is where you collect things: mud, rainwater, sweat, perspective, direction, fear, friends, peace, sunburn, agitation, experience, photographs.
There are images we see while on the road that aren’t part of the road but become part of our image of the road: coastal cliffsides crashing a thousand feet down into the water on the right; smooth slate-and-stone slabs soaring a thousand feet up into the sky on the left; a new city looming on the horizon getting bigger and bigger as we approach; the people we’ve left behind getting smaller and smaller as we depart.
The road is a liminal place. It’s the Limbo between start and end. Like all stories, all roads end, even for wanderers who drift between roads, calling them home for 40 years until one day they stop. We seek a straight path, wandering, because wandering wherever we please is easier than committing to one direction with conviction for the entirety of our lives.
But ultimately, every wanderer is on the road looking for one destination: home—whether it’s the one they came from or the one they haven’t found yet.
In your travels, you will come across a road. Where you come across this road isn’t important. You may come across it in New York, Karachi, or in your neighborhood. If you travel long enough, you will find this road. It’s a road that you probably already know. It’s the road that leads you to more roads that eventually lead not only to a new road that you don’t know, but to a new direction, and instead of turning around, you continue until you arrive at a place that looks slightly different from anything you’ve seen before. There you realize the things on the road haven’t changed, but you have.