It was already late in the day when I blew out of Boone. I picked up 421 and made for the Tennessee line. I knew those mountains, in that I recognized the general rhythm of the curves and the general direction I was heading, but I didn't know anything other than I would not stay in Boone. The bike was running fine, and I was not too tired but everything was wrong. I had spooked myself earlier that day on the parkway after I blew a couple of turns. I had been gravitating to the latter half of a Nine Inch Nails album on my headphones. Trees and houses and North Carolina flew past me, I was eating up road but I was very conscious of the fact I was afraid. It occurred to me that I wasn't sure what I was doing or where I was going. I was a long way from home. It felt like too far out, too alone. I was troubled by the idea that perhaps I had unconsciously come down here to die on a mountain.
I spent an hour of this in country I had never been before. There was a juncture in the road, a small town, maybe Mountain City, I don't remember. I pulled into the gravel lot of a empty laundromat, used the bathroom, got out the map and smoked. I bought a coke from inside, drank it and ate another trail bar, trying to lose the thousand yard stare. Two old men in folding chairs on the porch to a cinderblock building next door regarded me and my machine. I was strung out from the road, heartbroken and afraid. My phone had no service. The sun was blazing pre-dusk orange, edging close to the ridge of mountains. I decided to head more North than West, pick up the interstate outside Abingdon and make for home, something like four hundred miles. I would curl my boots back under me onto the rear pegs, lean down on the tank and run it wide open all night. I could ditch maybe at Tom and Laura's in Charlottesville if I got too tired. I would not go back to Boone. Because I felt like I had to, I dialed up the song that matched the sound my head was making and got the bike back on the road.
I rode it fast out of town on a straight empty road that opened onto miles between two vast fields. The machine thrummed along beneath me. The familiar ache in my shoulders came right back. Everything immediately looked alien again. It was getting cold. The song I'm talking about has only drums and vocals with a strange desolate synthesized noise throughout that sounds like exactly like despair. The only lyrics I can recall are "and I am still inside you." The song's name is "Home."