I saw a lot of heavy things last week. Most of which are not bloggable. One thing I want to talk about is the drive though North Carolina.
On the way down to my in-laws shore house, we took the smaller highway along the DelMarVa peninsula and then the smaller roads in North Carolina. We bypassed the large vacation homes and resort areas near Nag’s Head. Their house is way below the Outer Banks, almost near the border of South Carolina.
That drive is tough. It’s very long. We left Friday night and didn’t arrive at the house until late Saturday night. We got out of the car cramped and sore. On the way, we passed through some poor areas of the country. DelMarVa is mostly filled with chicken farms and horrific chicken processing centers. We’ve done this drive often enough, so we know of a few fun places to stop along the way. There’s one or two nice restaurants that cater to the wealthy retirees who live on large boats that travel up and down the intercoastal waterway. Crabcakes to die for. We were full of optimism about seeing relatives and bathing in the warm waters near their home.
The way back was tougher. We had a three hour drive through some very, very poor areas to get to Route 95, the big highway that took us to Washington, DC.
On that three hour drive, we passed towns with sagging churches, rusting trailers in the middle of soy farms, Hardees with fat people. Convenience stores that sell cigarettes for a $1.99, microwave pizzas, and AIDs tests. Hand made signs of Obama looking like a monkey.
I took some pictures from the moving car. I haven’t downloaded my camera yet, but I’m sure they are too blurry to show on the blog. I thought it would be too rude to stop the car and take pictures of the people and their homes. I wish I had the guts of a Walker Evans who recorded Southern poverty so many years ago.
When we arrived in DC, six hours later, we felt a moment of culture shock — neatly trimmed lawns, restaurants with outdoor dining, trim joggers. It felt like whiplash.
Inequity in this country has strong geographic boundaries. Sure, there is poverty here. My dad runs a food pantry, so we know that poverty is everywhere. But there’s something so oppressive about the poverty on the drive to Route 95. It’s everywhere. You can feel the depression in the air. It’s heavy and humid.