The shortest distance between two points is a straigh line. Everyone learned that in some rudimentary math class. If I know it, then I know other, smarter people know it, because I don’t remember much math. Trouble is, that’s only true in the theorum proved world of paper and pencil, of digital symantics. Never was a life that took a straight line, from birth to steps to proper and easy adulthood to the wide bright unknown hereafter.
I know this without proof. It simply must be true.
Every day I leave my house for work, but in doing so, I take nearly an hour and every major highway in our city.
First, my daughters and I swoop through our weird little neighborhood, and shoot north on the eastern flank of the city. We travel with the herd, pointing toward the outer schools, the downtown businesses. We are part of the wild masses, curling along to days wide open, full of worry or work, joy or pain, ease or discomfort.
We peel off north and east of the outskirts and throttle along on the vein that parallels the airport. These travelers know this route; they are the ones who carry the exact size carry on and never make the more than three ounces of liquid mistake. But they take their artery one way, and we continue on, aiming for the tiny and contained and beautiful downtown. We follow the path of old Route 66, but we don’t have time for such quaint highways on our way to school and work. We must push the limits, dodge the barrels, get there on time.
At the funky church and near the used furtniture store, we yank the car off so the girls can scurry to shool. They toss their I love yous over their shoulders, on smiles or grimaces, their own days pressing on their minds, their own lives to live and plan.
Once I deposit my hearts, I merge again with the downtown travelers, the semis heading west, the other now childless parents, who put their children in the backseats of their minds and turn our focus to the work laid out before us today. Of course they are always there, shadow figures, throbbing hearts we miss.
LItte Tulsa thrusts up from the city center, a small, compact, organized, urbanity like stalagmites hemmed in by the concrete thoroughfares. I see the brass topped building, the former dirigible landing platform, the sleek and obvious lines of Deco and Prairie. Zip zip. My southerly turn, I’ve traveled 169, 244 and now 75, keeps me from entering the city and I turn away from it. Now I am an outlier; the other cars crawl toward the layered cake of parking garages. Every level the same.
Fift-one/Sixty-four takes me east…when from the east I came. I won’t retrace those steps, but curl again at 44 and maneuver south and east. Trafffic is light. I miss my girls. I miss my son, and their father. We are the center of the atom and we’ve spun apart for the day. None of us is on straight line, none of us is on the same line. But we orbit together. We spin together. We will return to the same space together at the end of the day, and there I will find rest, and not a little family turmoil, but there I will go.
But for now, I aim south, the rising sun blinking into my driver’s window, onto that one side of my face. Sprinklers are on, business owners sweep their lots and turn on their lights. They are not on the same line, they are not on straight lines. Their orbits intersect mind. And we spin.
There is not such thing as a straight line for life. I find my way to work. I wend my home, a totally different route. I end up at home, but not in the easiest way, not in a direct course. Not simple. But sure, and certain, and worth much more than the promise of the ease of a straight line.