My driving is like gentle skating through the hills and valleys beneath Vermont’s friendly mountains. Past these well-kept cows and goats and horses, alongside clear streams and rivers, and through Christmas card white clapboard villages with village greens containing bandstands, sometimes with young guitar players doing sixties protest or peace and love songs still in this summer of 1986, this time that makes me feel I am, in nearly forgotten days, coming alive, though doing it in what to others, not me, might be middle age. Here so far from the exotic and erotic and chancy places on other continents that I had thought gave me definition and therefore an identity far removed from where so much of my life had begun – which was across the border in the stark, sometimes green and warm, more often blue-black and cold White Mountains of New Hampshire.
I am traveling in this lighthearted Aqua Mustang that I bought on a whim – the first car I have owned rather than rented since my old Humber in 1969 in Singapore, which closely followed my old tank-like green Rover in Bangkok. And now, of all things, a Mustang. We used to joke about this as a car for prosaic, play-it-safe people who wanted to pretend they were sports car drivers.
I enjoyed the fact that on the dashboard there was a gauge that showed the r.p.m.’s of the motor, which would be crucial information to a racing car driver who had to precise information for precise gear shifting at high speeds. But you did not shift gears in a car, like this one that has automatic . And moreover this model was a “hardtop” convertible, which mean it was a convertible that could not be converted.
And here I am in a Mustang, skating about these hills and valleys in this time of plunging subjectively and, and perhaps soon literally, into deep past places to find out, first, why I have been so attracted all my life to life-threatening matters, and, second, why my peers in the seemingly Victorian-safe family I came from had sunk or were sinking into unexamined life stories of death and molestation.
As I drive I see certain changes in unchanging northern New England, such as that the more prosperous Vermont farms no longer have the old picturesque elongated wooden barrel-type silos but now have shiny dark blue silos made of what appears to be Plexiglas. And I am started to hear in my head the voice of my twin brother, who took over the last of the big old family houses across the border and is probably there right now with his intensely Anglo wife, this brother who had roamed on orders from the CIA and tricky Defense Department agencies in some of the very places where I, in opposition, had sometimes been underground and/or under death threat. He is telling me what I can see for myself is not real unless it is certified by family, and he is in charge of certification. And then I smile, as I am doing often when alone this summer, smile maybe to keep from weeping.