You’re sitting passenger in a car traveling down an abandoned highway sometime around dusk but slightly past. You’re chasing the sunset, buildings lit like frame-frozen sparklers towering behind you in little cities growing littler as you drive. Your shoulders are uncovered and your hair flies free in the deafening bit of wind coming in through the sunroof that long past stopped letting in sun. The driver’s picked the music, and it’s something you enjoy but don’t know well enough to sing along. That doesn’t stop you, though; the trust flows as freely between the two of you as your body does with the motion of the music and the car. As freely as the words don’t.
On the side of the road there’s an armchair. It’s got curling arms and an arched back and you wonder how long its been sitting there. You don’t point it out to the driver. He’s in the middle of a particularly complicated rap and enjoying himself immensely and you don’t really want to share it with him anyway. He wouldn’t understand. The armchair stands like a sentinel, welcoming you to county whose line you just crossed without really reading the sign. There’s a word for this feeling, but words are so limiting. It doesn’t really matter who it belonged to, because in this moment, it belongs only to you and to the sunset and to the freedom of the road.
The unsureties of life suddenly don’t matter. The stickiness of the same job and the same house and the same people and the same city stretching as far as the eye can see. The unspoken questions that hang over conversations, the held back arguments and bottled hurt feelings. The bad habits and long-forgotten broken promises. None of that matters. Not right now.
Because that armchair, somehow, has convinced you that life is going to turn out all right. It sits there, desolate, alone, and it welcomes strangers and friends alike to the no name town off the highway you’ve already forgotten the name of. And it does it with dignity. With pride. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to fear, simply the open arms of a lost but not forgotten old armchair.
You remember that phrase, that mantra. Not all those who wander are lost. Deep roots are not reached by the frost. And suddenly you don’t even care that hipsters have appropriated it, because if it brings them joy and peace, who are you to judge?
You know the next time you roll like a pebble toad away from your problems, from relationships, from predatory tasks, you’ll see only the walls and the anger and fear. But maybe, just maybe, as you hit rock bottom and blend in, you’ll remember that displaced armchair, and you’ll stand again, and welcome yourself to this new phase of life. Because, after all, who can ever sit unsure in an old, proud armchair?