The van sways, and I hear a crinkle as Dan opens another energy drink. Justin shifts in his seat. I hope he can sleep. I hope Preston can sleep, in his cramped seat, only partially reclined because Justin sits behind him.
I wish I could sleep.
I have the entire back bench to myself, and slept delightfully for the first few hours. Every time I woke up there was a soothing melody on the radio to lull me back to sleep. “Forget what we’re told, before we get too old,” and then I’d dose off again.
Then I got a backache. Maybe the seat belt buckle was digging into my back for too long. I tried to ignore the pain, but I cannot fall back to sleep.
I sit up, doing strange silent stretches to ease sore muscles. We are in the wilderness, surrounded by giant hills lit up in the moonlight.
I look carefully at the moon, trying to see a face.
On Monday, Dan insisted that there was a face on the moon, that he’d always been able to see it.
“You can see anything on the moon if you look hard enough,” said Justin, laughing.
“No, I’m serious, it’s there,” said Dan.
We shook our heads and laughed.
Later, as we were walking into Walmart, I saw Dan looking intently at his phone, then at the moon, then back at his phone. He stepped sideways suddenly, still looking at the moon, and crashed into me.
“Woah,” I said. “What are you doing?” I looked at his phone, which had a picture of a white circle with three black spots.
“I’m trying to draw the face on the moon,” said Dan.
Now, at four thirty in the morning, I try to recall Dan’s picture as I look at the moon. Ah! There they are, the three black dots that could be eyes and an open mouth. I wonder why I’ve never seen this before.
We round a corner, and suddenly, instead of moonlit hills, I see a valley filled with city lights. Just like that, wilderness to civilization. In my euphoric tired-but-awake state of mind, the scene is doubly breathtaking.
Where are we? Are we out of Colorado? Are we in Utah? I scan road signs for clues, to no avail. I bet we’re in Utah. Utah roads stretch on forever, taking you everywhere. Driving through Utah makes me think of the words of Tolkien.
The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the road has gone
And I must follow of I can
Pursuing it with eager feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then? I cannot say.