Kyle’s Metaprimer #1: O is for on The Westside Highway

| May 11, 2014

I have driven continually on the Westside Highway for almost a year now. I find comfort in these experiences that nearly resemble wanderlust. Transitoriness, if nothing else, has emerged as a thematic recurrence since the start of my last year as an undergraduate.

The constancy of impermanence fuels my insatiable desire to experience everything.

Straight from my flip phone

Coping with this realization empowers me—inasmuch as it disquiets me.

There might be some kind of therapeutic component to lengthy trips in your car. Having any album that you enjoy in your palm, assuming you have an iPod, gives you the liberty to conjure whatever emotion at the click of your thumb. You have complete selection over the interior ambiance that you desire to establish in your car—since you cannot control the city’s.

Evocation by means of aural stimulation.

That basically summarizes many of my aesthetic experiences.

Some songs make their way into your life during rather chaotic times. Particularly emotive ones.

The cacophonous sounds of electronic devices make way for haunting arpeggios, vocals, and most emotively, an actual recording of an argument—all of which make this song drainingly cathartic insofar as emotionally debilitating. Sometimes you almost have to revel in the despair as you find your way through it. The cars are there, but you are not really thinking about them. The weather ideally fits your mood. The monotony of the song fits the monotony of your emotions. The therapy emerges when you open yourself up to what the song can provide—even if it accentuates the feeling. Perhaps a double negative effect.

Sometimes one single song comes around that engenders more hope in you than you can ever imagine. A simple vocal melody in the lines “Didn’t mention your name” alongside palm-muted chords consolingly elate you. You might almost break down from how nostalgic this song sounds—even if you just started listening to this song frequently. It feels like you have listened to the song for years. You, intoxicated in afternoon sunshine, drive up this road, feeling empowered, despite the looming emotional weight. Paul Westerberg helps throughout everything.

I tune out the Westside Highway’s sounds with music: I alter the ambiance to fit my needs. I wonder what riding on this road would be like devoid of music.

The lights, the buildings, the cars, the joggers, the cyclists, the crossing guards, the cars, the busses (that practically have the right to cut you off), the Citi Bikes, the concrete dividers, the side streets, the main streets, and the ubiquity thereof and whatever else I am missing. They are everywhere here, and I cannot help to think that, inasmuch as these things inundate me, I also enjoy them, to some strange, masochistic extent. Oh and traffic.

Traffic on the Westside Highway has this profound static quality that surfaces intermittently. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. A fucking bus cuts you off. Stop. Go. These increments of movement ritualize the experience of self-transportation. Inertia strangely metamorphoses based upon the given circumstances on the road. Without traffic, my commute would only last thirty-to-forty minutes. I practically drive in a straight line for over six miles.

I dread when the Holland Tunnel has one lane open, which typically occurs around 11 P.M. and thereafter. Merging. And waiting to do so. Watching the cars falling into their given spaces allotted by the other drivers fascinates me for this merging has an almost slotted quality to it—like I fit into this particular space to continue the line on which I am traveling.

Twilight—or night itself—on the Westside highway has proved to me that seeing these blankets of illuminations, and the radiance thereof, fosters introspection and healing. Your physical, mental, and emotional fatigue might entirely dissipate as you lose yourself staring into these lights.

At a red light, I once saw a custodian in the building to the left: I wondered what he was thinking. How he was feeling.

As voyeuristic as this might sound, I often wonder, as I drive, how the lives of the individuals who have apartments that showcase their private life: windows that are absent of blinds. I wonder if there is any other absence. Are they happy? Are the walls decorated with paintings filling up space? Do any of these things mean anything to you?

The solitary drives on this road has made me further realize the fundamentality of subjectivity in how I have aesthetic experiences. My perception of my environment is encapsulated in the microcosm of my car—the space wherein I affect my travels—and vice versa.