I was driving home from work one night. It’s about a 25 minute drive since I live out in the boonies in Maryland over the summer. There’s a single two lane road that goes straight out into the small town of Damascus. It connects Germantown to Damascus to Mt. Airy, and probably goes even farther — farther than I’ve ever ventured out. It’s the usual drive for anyone who lives up county. The one I made every day, twice a day to go to school.
It’s packed during rush hour; filled with moms and dads driving from the small town world to their hum-drum jobs. It’s almost empty at night; filled with cops picking off speeders, and late-night drivers just trying to make it home. It’s an easy drive; a single lane going each direction bordered by the darkness of the woods and farm land. But at the same time, it’s boring. It’s the bridge connecting my home life from my work life. The mandatory 10 minutes it takes to travel from one town to another.
But it’s not the only way to get home. There are the back roads. The windy country roads that are usually the last cleaned following a big snow storm. I had only traveled that path once, when I was in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s car. I recalled where the road started and where it ended, but didn’t remember much about the in-between. Would I stay straight all the way, or make a right turn?
As I came up on the next highway exit I had to decide: would I go the usual route, the one I took every day, or would I attempt the path less traveled?
Always up for a new adventure, I went with unknown. I had nothing waiting for me at home besides a warm laptop on my bed. I had some time to spare and wanted a break from the usual routine.
I passed the familiar exit and continued on North. I liked the feeling that overcame me. The feeling of spontaneity, of an unknown treasure to be discovered. I was driving with no purpose but to explore. I had no commitments, no strings. I could take the next exit and drive the unknown path or I could keep going. I could drive endlessly into the night. Until the road came to an end or until I ran out of gas. There was a multitude of possibilities that could cross my path that night. I could meet a stranger or find another life. It was the prospect of the unknown that incapsulated me.
As the next exit came up I drifted to the right lane to get off the highway and take the backroads home. There is much more to be discovered farther up the highway, but I would save that for another night. For now, I was contempt with the unknown path that led home.