The Thing About Space Travel (Is Loneliness)

Everyone has a place. Everyone has a dewy park bench they’ve split halved-sandwiches on and traced pathways with their squinting eyes. Or a sewing room where the perfect stream of sunlight bifurcated your sweating body; alone with your books and your fantasies. Everyone has private, specific places. Places that are just for themselves until one day, and what we really hope for, they become places you want to share, privately.

I talk too much. I have a nasty habit of talking for talking sake. I write every wormy, melancholy, goofy, and pointless thought down and pass it along to everyone I know and everyone I don’t know. I am an open book but with chapters hidden deftly between lines and between pages 101 and 102 and between smirks and bookmarks. So now, out of fear of non-discovery, I exhume a secret place. A place many people have been to but have they really? What’s a treasure without a map but a buried memory?

The thought has pricked up on the back of my neck a handful of times in initial meetings. A first date or a happen-stance coffee and the sneaking hope: “Can I show you this place? Will you be the first, the only one worthy, to know this secret?” The thing is, I want to share it with someone. I want someone who dizzies me to absorb the warm thoughts I’ve kept to myself. So, I often wonder if they will one day know. But only one has ever been chosen and then life continued to happen and they’ll now never know.

This is the place:

Outside of this city, to the South, three major freeways intersect with a twist and a turn and bridges and elevated on-ramps and criss-crossing overpasses. To adequately light these elegant veins Men have erected tall poles nearing a hundred feet tall. At the tops of these skinny and sturdy poles are four lights each instead of one. They hang like small globes and at night time they ooze amber, soft light. When driving a certain direction one must cross over the highest point of this modern marvel. At its peak the passengers can look out their windows and see the spaceship lights at nearly eye-level and if they are brave enough to look down they can see hundreds of burning and unaware cars passing below. The actual earth shifts from focus and for a split second, if you try, you could convince yourself you are flying through space, through the future, through a floating city shrouded in light, hidden from the dark, cool California air surrounding it. This is my Rainbow Road.

Places like this exist everywhere. Places so similar to My place. But this one is Mine. And your place might not be like mine at all. It might be the interior of a 1987 Volvo. But it is Yours and that makes it different.

I love my Rainbow Road. I love to be there by myself, truly. It is calming. It is horrifying. It is beautiful. But deep down I want to share it. I want to share it with the perfect person to share it with. Because it means more than a freeway overpass. It means a certain fantasy, a certain expectation. It means this:

When I tell you about my Rainbow Road I’m telling you about my fear that no one else thinks about these things in these places. I’m telling you about how space is a part of me like my blood, how my head wanders past stars and galaxies and expands like our universe in secret and silence. I’m telling you how only once a sunset has ever moved me but daily does city-planning make me almost weep. We’d be floating supernaturally over the ground on gold-lit masterful drive-ways that men with hands like ours built some day long ago. I’m telling you.

And what is that sick obsession with beauty and my fingerprints? I want everyone to leave their mark on me and I want to do the same in return. People come and go but our fingerprints leave stains on the rest of our lives. In the stories you tell, in the patterns of your speech, in acquired mannerisms, no one ever dies.

I’m not afraid of dying but I do not want to die. I’d rather be here. And years from now when we no longer know each other, really, you’ll be driving in some town you’re unfamiliar with and change from South to East and notice my fingerprint I gave to you that time, that delicate time in that car.

But now you know and now I need new places because some fingerprints smudge, for better or worse, and space travel is lonely. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog