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 Last Updated: February 27, 2002
September 16, 2001: By Alex Marx


I am coming home.

I left yesterday to visit family in Pennsylvania. It’s normally an ideal trip for a motorcycle. The roads there lead through god’s country. If you ride a motorcycle, you live for these roads and this weather.

Small two laners, twisty and well maintained. They follow the contour of the rolling hills of North Eastern PA. Serpentine.

Farm land, forests, woods, small towns, little cities, many dying as they have for years and will continue to do so.  Hill and Dale.

It is uplifting and glorious, I always come back feeling refreshed. I fantasize about living here in nature’s glory. Then winter sets in and I get back to reality. I hate shoveling snow, its cold.

Not this trip. In the state of “fight or flight” this was flight. I raced up the roads at speeds that garner tickets and huge fines. I wasn’t the only one. I barely kept up with my teammates. I was keenly focused on the flight; the sense of needed exhaustion that running from pain gives.

I paused only once, only once did I loose that focus. Going over the George Washington Bridge, I turned my head to the left, looking for them.

They weren’t there.

I went faster.

Not that I wasn’t focused on my driving or the hazards of the ride. No, I was more finely focused then my other rides. My flight demanded it. The pain drove it.

Halfway there I felt the soreness in the throat from running too long. My legs ached, and I was cold. The sun was low, and we were in the country now. I pulled over to add layers.

I lost focus. I had run. Hard. Long. Like a long scream. I was exhausted.

Without the relief that programmed response promised.

I couldn’t get my flow back. My riding was bad, I missed my exit, took the next, all roads lead to family. I saw nothing, felt nothing. The layers were stiff, confining, and I didn’t have the energy to break free and ride well. To be well.

I stopped at a country store and wandered the almost bare aisles for food. I hadn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon. Again. Bare aisles were explained by the “this family business for sale” flyer taped to the wall. Victims too. Maybe now too late to sell.

The mini-ATM beeped every 10 seconds, incessantly, unhappily. It had lost connection, to its mother. At ground zero.

Even here, this poor country cousin automaton cried for its loss.

I ate my turkey on rye and drank my chocolate milk (safety food) on the bench outside. The NY Times had the least sensationalist headlines and I went back and purchased it after smearing mustard over half the front page.

The last 30 miles were unimportant. I tried to focus and stay aware. I succeeded.

I didn’t succeed in being a good uncle, nephew, brother or brother-in-law. Just before dinner, I went upstairs to vegetate, hoping that 90 cable channels would offer something other then ground zero. Motorcycle racing. I was asleep in minutes.

It was the best sleep the whole week. No aircraft, no sirens, no smoke. Just family.

I was awakened at 10:30 so I could go to my own bed. I wanted to write. So I ate. I watched TV, something was on. I promised myself every half hour to write.

4:30 AM and I gave in to sloth and went to bed.

I awoke to sirens and fear. Will it never end?  I pushed the noise back and went to sleep. Later I realized it was the hot water heat expanding the pipes.

And now driving back home, slower and unsatisfied.

Back over the bridge.

Look right.

They’re still gone

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All Portions Copyright © 2001 Alex Marx