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By Christian Holland

I've realized that the experience of driving across the country merely affords one with the sensation of exhaustion. The pilgrimage that many young people commit themselves to at some or various points in their 20’s is undergone for the sake of adventure. Driving thousands of miles is an odyssey, but long ago cars enabled us to skip the places in between that hold little or no interest to us. Those places do, however, contain millions of people, their culture, their homes, places of employment, commerce and worship, and the flora and fauna by amidst the people live.

We stopped at a bookstore in Nashville and skimmed Civil War (or “The War for Southern Independence” or “The War of the Rebellion” or simply “The War,” etc) literature ranging from “Southern Invincibility: A History of the Confederate Heart” and a confederate military commander’s memoir to a chapbook titled “The Lincoln Myth.” We drove down a single lane road in rural West Virginia dotted with sheep farms and hamlets surrounding shed-sized white chapels. We ordered mudbugs and fish tacos at the same restaurant in downtown Little Rock. We drove by a bigoted billboard in Oklahoma advertising a winery. We climbed ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument. We searched for art in Santa Fe, but only found out what a perfect score in darts is while buying a 104-year-old post-card from the part of the country where I grew up.

But other than my lesson in darts, which I later found out was incorrect (a perfect score is a 180, or ton-80. I was told it was a 1080 or a Ten-Eighty), I learned little more than a few town names from my map and gps. We couldn’t stay very long in the locations we visited. Like most people our age, our funds were limited and we did, at the terminus of our journey, need to reach a destination where one of us had a job waiting. I think the objective in such a road trip is to find out whether the places in between actually exist and, if there’s time, take a picture. At one point in my journey, I wrote down some observations about crossing into the South on a social networking site and Berwick curator Nova Benway wrote in a comment, “I […] wonder about Alabama...I feel like I don't know anyone who's ever been there. Does it exist?” I think she’s on to something. We are intrigued by the places we’ve never been to and romanticizing the experience we might have in those unknown locals happened automatically. We inevitably get in our cars and drive to these places in hopes of brushing up against those places in between, and we stay a day or even a few weeks. Getting to know those places like we know our homes is impossible; the urge to go somewhere else calls us back to the road. The potential experiences we might have in our romanticized destinations are squandered for the opportunity to say we’ve been somewhere else, and in the end, we eventually return to our jobs, our loved ones, the familiar.

This issue of Big RED and Shiny has one review. One single review. Megan Driscoll has contributed a piece on “And Things of That Nature” at the BCA’s Mills Gallery. Thank you, Megan.

Where did all the writers go? There are many good shows out there and many more of you with opinions about them, but no volunteers to pen their thoughts? This doesn’t make sense to me. Writing is hard and placing your thoughts out on the chopping block of anonymous comment sections is daunting. But those are poor excuses from a city and region with thousands of students, professors and artists.

Boston is blessed with an unequalled cultural saturation and an unparalleled level of education and knowledge within its populace. Though I didn’t learn much from my trip, I can say for certain that Boston is very lucky. Get out of your apartments and offices and learn something new, write it down and send it to Big RED. Don’t squander the experience that this city affords you.

About Author

Christian Holland is an aspiring New York City-based essayist who likes writing about how New York City isn't the center of the world. He was executive editor and founding contributor of Big, Red & Shiny, and sat on the publication's board for V2.

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