The road and sky are dark as pitch and I am driving. It is about 4 a.m.—the birds are still silent, as are the houses and the trees. I hear nothing but the warmth of the summer night. It, in a way, makes a sound of its own.
I have my windows down. The breeze trickles through and touches my face and eliminates—even if briefly—the stickiness of the humid air. I speed up a little bit—forty miles an hour in a zone marked twenty-five.
I don’t care, though. I don’t know where I’m going. Tonight I needed to drive somewhere, some time.
It is nights like this where the past ceases to be pure memory. It steps out of our minds and takes root in the dew-covered grasses.
I drive by darkened hills and basketball courts and ice cream stores and empty park benches. I pass empty schools and playgrounds, both diligently awaiting the local students.
I keep going—onward, onward.
And then I get an urge to stop.
It is the edge of the town. I remember I first came here the night before I was to move away. I grew up here. My memories stay locked in the fields and the stores, the houses and the people. I had to come to the edge—knowing that I would soon break through and enter into something without place. I would be a man without roots.
And I was frightened.
I remember looking at the sign: “Williamsburg—Established 1810.” This was everything I knew. That comforted me.
Now I have returned. I guess I must have been driving longer than I thought. Still it is strange how we are sometimes compelled to return to such places. The world is full of compelling. I think of sea turtles always returning to the same island in order to lay eggs.
All of us need a home.
I turn off my car and I unbuckle my seatbelt and I step outside. The warm air is refreshing. Everything seems tinged with magic. It is as if a singular step would transport you into some fantastical world filled with strange creatures.
I look at the sign—just as I did years ago.
I smile as a night breeze blows.