5

The half-life of neon is longest at 3.38 minutes. Most variations come in under the 60 second mark. Radioactive decay. To think, a whole world rose out of this, an element so scarce on earth that it could only live here contained in a glass tube. 

If you ruminate too much, America seems like it never made it beyond Tocqueville’s diary. The roadside, the motel, the dream of travel. To be temporary somehow became the ultimate success story.

You worry that this says everything about you. You worry that the pull of neon reveals a base desire to dig a hole and block out anything but the brightest light, some obnoxious beam that casts shadows like dismal reason. 

Maybe you want to be consumed.

So you wake up sluggishly, morning after morning. Perfume air, heavy drapes, nice light on the clothes rack that you never use. Happy but.

You were promised the Stardust sign.

Didn’t happen.

There are postcards on the night table. Grey light and scattered colors. We make gods of the shiniest things, and look at pictures as some sort of reprieve. 

Neon. The new. Energy.

It’s always the new energy. 

Have I been having nightmares again?

Elie DahdouCraigin Spring, John GreimJulian Becker

Heartfelt: Flamborough, Ontario, Canada

Extending great gratitude to the Tumblr community and many thank you’s to the curators, re-bloggers and supporters of my photography! Very much appreciate all your feedback, commentary and hearts. Saw this beautiful flower on the side of the road (no idea what kind it is), but thought it is perfect to share with you on this wonderful Sunday.  Enjoy! :-)

Also, special thank-you’s out to:

@ponderation, @theoriginalplant, @0riginal-sharing@outboundmedia1@my-shadow-box, @lovefromalgy, @jaycyjaie, @kkomppa, @myutopianmind, @cece3927, @westernshore, @within-her-minds-eye-74, @stuffaboutontario, @stuffaboutmanitoba, @sims3-4-creations-mycats, @sidekickwife2, @sofiz24, @yukseleni-kova, @crystalinedream, @rivermusic​, @reservedhippie, @starlight2travel, @laskathetreasurehunter, @mohammad-albanaa@thephotographerssociety, @camera-raw, @istumbled-upon​, @photosworthseeing, @yeswearemagazine, @imiging, @lensblr-network, @luxlit

5

The new keepers of the American motel

Those old dreams cling hard to rust-covered guard rails, season after season of salt, layers of protection and decay. What of this stubborn allegiance to the road? You want everything and to answer for nothing. You consume nostalgia like cereal.

This road. 

You’ve been asleep at the wheel while the country has grown around you. As you drone by the little towns underneath the highway, the anonymity of the motel marks some residue of a nation afraid to look in the bathroom mirror. 

Neon remains stable, though. One sign immune to decay. 

This persistent fantasy has new owners, those who embrace the daily grind of a business model and a way of life on brink. They fold the sheets, tend to half-baked highway gardens, and greet sweaty businessmen who will never use the pool.

They keep the motel register.

This vigil along the American road.

You need rumble strips. Jagged cuts into the asphalt designed to shock you so much that you stay on the road as it turns.

ZUMP. ZUMP. ZUMP.

ZUMP.

ZUMP.

The sound of a car is loudest as it passes before your eyes.

5

This is an old story, though the characters and locales always change. It takes place in some land far away from the city where the sun always shines and the roadside is a place of constant renewal.

You’ve seen it in a storybook, on a postcard, or some AAA map you discovered in your grandparent’s basement that points to treasure you still believe can be found, even as the labels have faded and the roads have changed. 

They tell of a place where you might leave your shadow behind, where you can float with your cigarette ash above the floral carpet to a poolside idyll. Here you’re promised the perfectly safe adventure of dreams.

It’s the most wonderful place ever conjured up.

If the American motel of the mid-century has an obvious literary antecedent, it’s Neverland. Mundane time must pause at the motor court, this haven of thieves and vacationers, replaced by the drama of experiences that happen to the real you, which is, of course, entirely fictional.

The modernist faith in the transformative power of the symbol trickled into the pomp of blazing motel signs, with their blinking lights promising a frontier country ripe for exploration, adventure, and, above all, play.

Who needs fairy dust when you have a Chevrolet Impala and a full tank of gas?

The motel promised to make us Peter Pan, if only for a little while. The return to youth takes place in a room beside the Lost Boys.

This is where we defeated Captain Hook, who was just the insidious figure of our own humdrum lives. For a moment, it was possible to shake off the imposing shadow of suburban America, which was always waiting to be be sewed back on when you returned home. 

But where exactly is that?

Photos by RetroRoadsidePhoto, William Bird, Cardboard America, Clara Williams, and Gary Martin.