I went for a long(ish) motorcycle ride on this perfect summer day. I chose a loop that would take me up into Maine's 'outback', through the mountains and foothills where the towns are tiny and the people are sparse. I passed through Farmington--where the earmuff was invented--and the town of Strong, probably so named because you shouldn't bother trying to live there unless you are. If you live in a populous or even a semi-populous area, you may not be able to really picture just how far out in the boonies some of these little villages are. I passed a sign that said, "Danger Many Moose Collisions in this Area", and someone had spray-painted across the bottom: "490", just in case you really didn't get what they meant by "..many". Or maybe it was a person who just enjoys keeping score, and baseball seems so remote up there.
I was motoring along through a town called Carthage--'town' referring to a legal boundary more than any recognizable settlement. I mean, if someone said "Let's go downtown and get some groceries." You really wouldn't have a clue which way to go. T'ain't nuttin' dere. And, I came around a curve, down a shallow hill and saw a lot of pink. There was lots of pink paint on the pavement, and all kinds of it on the roadside and even in the woods. I slowed and then turned around, came back and parked the bike. I got out my camera and began recording the scene in front of me. It was both quite astonishing and very moving.
It was clear that I was looking at, indeed witnessing, a roadside memorial site. It was an assemblage of materials and items that were serving to record the pain of apparently a large number of people, all of whom knew a nineteen year-old woman named Angela Marie, who died on this spot about six weeks ago, on June 15th. I could see where a vehicle had left the road and torn up some trees, and I also know that such roadside 'shrines' are commonplace all over rural America. In some places I have been it is a more formalized practice, with a plain white cross marking the spot where a person or persons have died. In Carthage Maine, it was a vast and pink outpouring of emotion, with light-sticks festooned in the trees, beads, plastic flowers (they do last longer), a poem, a bare spot on the tree that her car hit where one was invited to leave a message for her by the presence of a Sharpie stuck in the bark....at the very spot where her vehicle struck. I have never witnessed such a passionate outpouring of pain and love as this spot was reflecting.
In the road, adjacent and partially on top of where a large pink heart had been painted, were copious burn-out marks, evidence of a kind of arcane ritual of squealing tires that actually did seem to fit in somehow with the entire rest of the scene. My assumption is that Angela was fairly passionate about the color pink.
When I had recorded the place, I put my helmet and gloves back on and slowly motored away from this spot. I didn't hear of her death at the time, but it was in the papers that Angela Bordeau, of Mexico, Maine, was in a single-vehicle accident, late at night, and was declared dead at the scene. Franklin County sheriff's deputies reported that speed played a role, the tires on her '03 Saab were all bald and she wasn't wearing her seat-belt. A part of me would like to know what was going on with Angela that night. The Willie Nelson song, "Angel Flyin' too Close to the Ground", comes to mind.
But, I do know that what I witnessed on that nondescript stretch of country road left an indelible impression and on some level I cannot really imagine a more effective means of demonstrating how painful it was--and is--for those who did know this young woman, to have her pass from this world too soon and so violently.
Rest in Peace Angela Marie