catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 19 :: 2006.10.20 — 2006.11.03


A sixty-mile wedge

It’s 8:00 on a Thursday morning.  Just eight hours ago I was rifling through my pockets looking for car keys so I could hop into my car and make my way home.  Now, newly showered, I’m making the drive all over again.  A comfortable yellow house with white trim disappears into my rearview mirror.

I sigh deeply. 

The next three years of my life promise to be full of this very same commute.  My first stop will be the gas station, where I’ll purchase coffee.  An inch of hazelnut-flavoured Coffeemate masks the burnt coffee flavour and makes it drinkable.

Twenty-five miles to my next stop.  I settle in; Diane Rehm and the BBC news hour keep me company.

At about 8:19, I pull in to the rest area.  The caretaker comments on my recent haircut, it makes me look so much better, he says.  I thank him—was he paying me a compliment, or bemoaning my former shaggy look? 

Only about 35 more miles of loneliness and I arrive at my second home.  It's actually an office, an eight foot by eight foot cell perched atop the ivory tower.  I’ll spend the night here on my cot—a cot built for a person who’s not quite my size (meaning my ass drags on the floor).  Sleeping here allows me to address a concern: saving gas, and therefore money.  Additionally, it allows me the freedom to go out to the bar with dear friends.

My friends are my family here.  On Thursday nights, we’ll go out drinking, dancing and talking.  My friend Dan and I drain beers and watch our fill of violent sporting events.  Together with my Jewish friend Courtney (she calls herself that because she’s so proud to be my first and only Jewish friend), we make our way to her apartment to smoke hookah tobacco, drink herbal tea and chat into the wee hours of the morning.  In short, I cavort around doing exactly what I was taught not to do at Christian school.  And, as much as I love all of my “school family,” I know that my other family quietly misses me, just like I miss them.

At the other end of that 60-mile commute, this Thursday night, waits Jen, a loving wife; Thelma, a cat that misses me; and Paige, a cat that revels in my absence.  I long to go back home.  On Friday, I will go back home.

My wife, our cats, our church, our friends; they might as well be a world away on Thursday nights.  Not because I don’t love them, or don’t think of them, or don’t want to be with them.  But rather, they might as well be a world away because they’re out of reach.  My two homes, my two communities, don't contradict each other.  It's simply that they are so separated by physical distance.

I wish I were the only one; but I'm not.  There are many others just like me.  On a weekday morning I’m amid the throng of commuters—all gathered en masse supplicating our Nissan, Chevrolet and Mitsubishi gods.  Hundreds, no thousands of us, together, and at once alone, pay homage to Exxon-Mobil and Quaker State as we ride our metallic sanctuaries out into the great elsewhere.

It’s funny really, that commuting would make me feel so alone.  After all, I’ve got two homes, two communities (more if you count the gas station attendant, the caretaker at the rest area, Diane Rehm and the BBC) to call my own.  But the truth is, I don’t feel more connected.  I feel more disconnected, like hopping in my car and making my drive kills me a little.  Something tells me I should be grateful for my homes, but no matter how many wonderful family members wait for me on either end of my commute I still feel that I am stuck somewhere in the middle.  I'm stuck between two families, unable to experience both completely.  Every mile I add to my odometer moves me farther and farther away from that which I hold dear.

This article originally appeared in Geez Magazine (, a quarterly print publication that promulgates holy mischief in an age of fast faith.

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