For the past decade or so I have been working a collection of drawings that have developed into their own project. Slowly, each drawing piles up and gives shape to the next. In the course of that time one small set of those drawings emerged as a smaller, and very personal, side project. Once that side project started to take shape it grew and grew. The above illustration accompanies one of the memoir-like entries, from the recently completed Stop the Press, a tribute to the career of my father.
By rather conservative estimates the total tally for the distance that you have traveled to work over the course of your career is 1.3 million miles. To put that into perspective you could have gone to the moon and back, twice, and still have had enough gas in the tank to make one last trip for a lunar retirement. 21,541 hours, 897 days, 2.46 years spent on the road. In all honesty I would have guessed much higher. I’m not as impressed as I would have thought.
To pretend that I have a clue as to how many of those miles I shared with you, protecting your seats from the misty morning dew, is impossible to calculate—100K, 200K, maybe somewhere in between. During that time it became clear that hell would freeze over long before I could handle that daily drive. Some days I was asleep before we got out of the driveway. While I have often wondered throughout this project what more
I would have learned about you had I stayed awake those mornings, I don’t look back with any regret. To an outsider looking in, and even to another fellow traveler of a similar daily commute, it might have looked as if you were escaping your family. But sitting beside you, awake and silent some days, I knew it was the only moments of solace you had during your week. That time probably kept you sane during all the insanity over the years. I can’t begin to imagine the thoughts that took up those hours in transit. 21,541 hours of thinking. You always told me I think too much. I guess you would know.
Back and forth I picture you lost in space counting stars as you pilot your ship. The trips were not short on thrills and excitement. In all the years spent carving a line between Newburgh and Fairfield the mere luck that I was not only in the car but also awake when we passed—many calendars apart and only visible for moments—two trains heading straight for us is a small stroke of fortune. The fact that I was in the passenger seat when for the only instance I recall you ever having this happen, not once, but twice in a single ride home, we spun out like figure skaters on ice. Watching the world go round and time stop out our windows was pure luck, as was the truck gently gliding by in front of us. The fact that this was a rare occurrence stands out to me. You are the same man who left in a blizzard for a 70 mile drive to work. Granted you made it 3 miles and had to walk home, but you still had the audacity to try. It’s due to people like you that the Governors of New York and New Jersey have to call states of emergency more often. Who does that?
Over those years I know I missed countless moments as I was sleeping and even awake sitting beside you. For every deer I saw, you counted a dozen that alluded me, as did a coyote and a fox I think, and of course the pink elephant. I did, however, count a few shooting stars, witness some of the birds of prey circling their poor victims below, and once during your 1.3 million mile adventure, we watched a goat descend a mountain.
For more drawings that inspired the book please visit my portfolio at Studio 1482.