The car is locked in cruise control while my legs are getting restless. I'm driving along the Adirondack Northway from Albany to Montreal on just another regular, weekday afternoon. Outside, the sun hides behind layers of frothy clouds while my windshield seems to be virtually perspiring from the combination of chill and moisture in the air. The roads here are beautiful, I think to myself, as the sights of countless bodies of water periodically come in and out of view. Like giant puddles, I watch as they flicker past in my periphery, flowing between the sky-high, monolithic slabs of the Adirondack mountains, and interrupted only by this twisting ribbon of pavement I'm on. Somewhere, deep in the back of my mind, I feel I'm subconsciously dwelling on a list of a hundred to-dos; like an itch I can't quite reach to scratch. As the miles tick by, the itch seems to dissipate, and into the forefront of my mind comes a torrent of random thoughts on everything from the idea of running ultras again to buying a new camera.
Fast-forward to the day's end. Downtown Montreal feels a little bit like New York city, but the streets are quieter at night. The juxtaposition of being in such an urban locale and not hearing the constant din of Manhattan traffic disorients me as I sit here, in the glow of this desk lamp, writing in my journal. My thoughts are scattered (like crows) and the weight of yet another impossibly long day hangs on my shoulders like a leaden vest. Fighting off the urge to sleep in these closing minutes, I summon the energy to reach for my camera, then slowly make my way to the parted curtains of the hotel room window. Outside, there is only night.
In a blink, tonight has turned into tomorrow, and on this day, the new record from The National has debuted. It's called Sleep Well Beast, and I've looked forward to its arrival for many months now. I listen to the album in totality during my morning run, and then again, later, three more times in continuous succession while driving endlessly around Quebec. It's a musical masterpiece that speaks to me the way Boxer did in 2007, and the way Trouble Will Find Me did again in 2013. It turns out Sleep Well Beast is the soundtrack I didn't know I needed.
Somehow these days feel like they're thirty hours long, and on this particular one, I've spent the majority of that time driving my car. Occasionally, I drop the window at a traffic light, reach across the empty passenger seat, and snap a photograph. These are not picturesque bodies of work - these snapshots - but they match perfectly both my mood and the weather. No sooner than these very thoughts register, the sky rips open and rain pours down, splashing into my car from the open window.
Crossing the border, my journey nears its end. I let my foot off the gas and ease the car into an exit lane, headed toward a New York northcountry town I've never heard of. I need a coffee and some air, so I stop at the only fast food joint in town and step out to see the northern tip of Lake Champlain. Even in the rain, it's lovely. I make a mental note to return sometime when it's warmer, and then I get back in my car and press play on Sleep Well Beast again. Driving, I'm only vaguely aware that there's a historically large hurricane approaching Florida; for some reason, North Korea seemingly wants to blow up the world; and back in the office, the stocks keep sliding, tumbling downward like that cartoon snowball I remember as a kid. Something about being in New York again has pulled me back to reality. I feel that unreachable itch begin again, but I can't find the energy to care about any of it... So I press the accelerator down and turn the music up.
Footnotes: All images, Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 XFR