The Gravel Road

“I feel so close to this road. My feet can feel the soft earth as I step down”, and I have to wonder, “Why does this feel so good, so right to me?” I can’t stop the thought as I stroll down a very short part of the road that has not yet been paved. This has to be one of the original backstreets of my little town where life has not changed in a 100 years.

The Gravel Road

Then I realize, this is like home to me. This is part of my youth – this is actually part of who I am. Suddenly, I’m the little skinny kid, walking around a country road or taking the shortcut across the field by walking in the ruts made by a farmers tractor.

The thoughts start flooding my brain – the gravel driveway where I grew up – the path to the barn where I would take my turn to milk the cow in the morning and evening. The path in our back field that Gene and I made to ride our bikes. This 50 feet of compacted gravel and damp earth are about as close to being a kid as I can get right now and it just feels wonderful to be walking here.

And then it all comes together. The years when growing up in America meant the Platters, early Elvis, drive-in theaters, no drugs in school (well, maybe some beer), Teen Angel, milkshakes at the soda fountain with my mom while waiting for my sister to get out of the downtown theater… and maybe a grilled cheese sandwich with Velvetta cheese… I can almost taste it!

And now? What happened to that America? The one everyone loved. The America where streets were fairly safe and country homes did not even have a key to the front door. The place where men opened doors for ladies, and people could walk into a friends home, shouting “Hi – anyone home?” And homes had parents in them. Both parents. And we all sat together for dinner and then played outside or the family would gather for Crazy-8 or Rummy.

What happened to that one?

I understand with each passing generation, life changes. But this moment in time just seems different and to some extent – it feels wrong. We have become so polarized, spiteful – many are jealous of those with more than they have and it seems to breed contempt for each other. And some types of music is so offensive and demeaning to women, yet played on the radio like no one noticed. Can this be good for us as a society?

People look down or away when you pass in the streets and everyone is plugged into something. For what? To escape? To not engage with other people? Has the iPhone and Facebook taken away our humanity? What ever happened to calling someone – or perhaps even – gasp – visiting in person? Where did this all go and why? And where’s it going next? What are my kids going to see – how will they feel in 40 years?

Maybe the gavel and mud road is my therapy for now… something to hang onto as a token of good from days long past. I miss those days. I miss what seems like the simple goodness that was America and Americans. And I hope someday soon – they come back before it’s too late.