By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It was late at night and I was driving east on Highway 100, heading back to the Laguna Madre, heading against the grain of what little traffic shared the road with me. I was plugged in, half my mind focused on the podcast I was listening to as tenor voices filled the cabin of my car. I had the volume of the stereo speakers turned up loud to keep my neurons engaged and alert. Meanwhile, the other half of my mind focused on the staccato rhythm of the yellow stripes painted on the asphalt below as my tires spun them by, mile after mile.
The journey had mostly been a quiet one, a solitary one. The sound of the road vibrated up through the floor of my car, mixing with the voices of the journalists on the podcast. Occasionally, a pair of headlights would flare across my windshield as I passed someone heading the opposite direction. But there’s not much tourist traffic heading up Highway 100 on a lonely night in February. Heck, there’s not much local traffic, either.
I marked my progress absentmindedly, making a mental note of each town I passed so I’d know how much farther I still had to go. The warm glow of the street lights as I approached Los Fresnos meant I was almost home — on the last leg of my journey — and also spurred me to be more mindful of my speed as I came up to the spots where the limit dropped from 60 mph, to 55, to 45, to 30.
It was a small break in the monotonous routine of the road that made me pull a little more focus from the podcast and redirect it to details around me. I waited quietly at red lights. Proceeded forward when they turned green. I felt my eyes make the temporary readjustment to the increased darkness as I left the orange glow of the streetlights behind, along with the snail’s pace speed limits.
It was dark, but I know this road well. I can almost drive the curves by feel. I didn’t even bother to turn on the high beams. But, it wasn’t long after I passed Los Fresnos and the zany creatures that line the edge of Bobz World that the darkness became thick and blunt, instead of the clear sharpness I’d thus far experienced.
As if a line had been drawn across the earth, I had crossed into the enveloping grayness of a fog bank from one moment to the next. Instead of seeing the road and the jersey barrier stretching out into the gloom for dozens of yards in front of me, I could barely see 20 yards ahead.
It wasn’t until I made it to the first gap in the wall that I saw the street lights there wink into existence one by one, and then wink right back out almost as soon as I had passed them. My review mirror was an oblong pit which reflected nothingness back at me.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel like I knew this road so well, after all. I slowed and drove the miles by inches. Inches of sight.
Once I finally arrived home, I opened the car door and breathed in the clouds which clung to the trees and the other cars around me. I smiled at the sweet smell of the fog, appreciative of how it muted the sounds of the night, and how it blanketed the landscape in cool softness, but glad nonetheless to be home.
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