Friday, September 2, 2011

Different Directions

On Wednesday, having punched my way through my to-do list for the day, I rolled out of my church office at about 4:30 in the pii em.  I wandered over to my bike, threw a leg over it, and motored out the church drive to the street.  To go home, I turn right, go down Wilson lane till it dead ends, and then go right across a one lane bridge.

But the lights that flashed on the bike were on the left side, and left is the way I went.

Then, it was out to River Road, where usually 1) go straight, to pick up my kids at the synagogue or 2) go right, so I can get to the Beltway, where I hop into the soul crushing traffic of the Outer Loop.   I went 2) right, but then on, on over and blessedly past the Beltway, following River Road north-north-west as it diligently shadows the Potomac.

River Road first leads through Potomac, an intimidating thicket of wealth and power.  The two-lane tiptoes through what seems like an endless cavalcade of mansions, the umpty-thousand square foot edifices that corporate lawyers and the captains of the military industrial complex bought with your tax dollars and your credit with China.  You've got to have something to come back to when you're not at Aspen or in the Hamptons, don't you, Lovey?

Passing through this ostentation, traffic was a bit dense, it being rush-hour.  The Yamaha was compliant beneath me, but it's an aging bike, and we're growing near to the end of our time together.  With the cooling fan on the fritz, I had to shut 'er down at stoplights.  And as traffic moved slowly downhill, I flicked the kill switch, coasting, silencing the heat-producing combustion.  It's been my workaround for too long now.

I'd left early for a reason, and avoiding traffic was that reason.  Soon enough, the snarl cleared, and River opened up.  I twisted the throttle, and with the arthritic clatter of aging valves and cheap gas, the Yamaha surged forward and put the mansions behind me.

Gradually, the density began to diminish.  Fewer homes.  Nice homes, but less ostentatious.  More trees. Then fields.  Nine point eight miles in, I zag right onto Esworthy, a road easy to miss if you're not paying attention.  Then right on Seneca, which quickly dead-ends into Route 107.

There's a small back up at the light.  A woman and her young daughter sit at the entrance of a very nice looking Catholic School in a gleaming Lexus hybrid, waiting to turn left.  I let the shiny Audi convertible ahead of me pull forward, and wave them in.  They smile, and wave thanks.

As I sit behind them at the light, I hear them talking through the windows of the Lexus, left open to a lovely afternoon.  The mom is laughing at her daughter's silliness, and the daughter is laughing with her, happy in one another's company.  I smile.  It's a nice moment, and a reminder, whispers a little voice.  Just because folks do well, doesn't mean you have the right to prejudge them.   I mostly shake the mansions out of my head.

The One Oh Seven takes me off to the West-North-West, and into the Northern Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve.   It's strikingly beautiful country, 93,000 acres of fields and farms and amber waves of grain, a reminder of what this land was like before we smothered it with asphalt strip malls and tickytackytownhomes.

I slowed a bit, taking in the warm gold of the late afternoon as I moved towards my destination.  I'd been there before, when I and my bike were younger, another blog and what seems like a lifetime ago.  

Funny, the directions life takes you.