Roads are long and winding, seemingly unending. Roads can lead anywhere - home, school, work, the Grand Canyon, your cousins’ lake house, senior prom, the middle of a desert, or what feels like nowhere at all. City roads are often constructed of smooth black asphalt. We drive upon those asphalt streets, and over time, potholes and other deformities deteriorate the surfaces on which we travel. Without proper care, asphalt roads become impassible.

Dirt roads are less frequented than the asphalt of cities; nevertheless, these roads are integral to reaching destinations. Thickening and hardening in the sun after a rainstorm, dirt roads are perfect for four-wheel drive. These roads lack the uniformity and predictability of asphalt and practically call upon the human sense of adventure. Without dirt roads, it would be impossible to arrive at new and unknown havens. The deterioration of dirt roads only makes them more accessible. They are destroyed when they are no longer in use, and as grass and trees distort the trails, dirt paths become indiscernible from their environments. Without repair or restoration, roads are reduced to wreckage.

Love and loss wear down roads, crumbling the pavement as they alter the soul. The relationships among family members, the marriage between spouses, the bond joining friends: the people you encounter throughout life pave paths. Childhood best friends lie down an asphalt road. Memories of chalk drawings on bright summer days are pavements not easily broken. Occasionally a crack will develop in the concrete, but a simple phone call restores the road to what it once was.

A dirt road, the wind in the surrounding trees sounding like a swift intake of breath, is the love of a star-crossed couple. Encompassed by a scenery more beautiful than any photograph could ever hope to capture, the gravel path is clear of underbrush. The ride upon the previously unexplored road is jarring. All is new. All is blossoming. The devotion of two who have become one is stronger than no other. The excitement, the spontaneity, and the spark are listed on no map. The road is known to no one else. Atlases don’t proclaim their story. Their bond is a path that the two have created, and they themselves will cut back the branches that threaten to obstruct their way.

Other relationships are pathways torn down without warning, annihilated in mere seconds. All is well, if only seemingly so. Then, a sudden blow. A phone call. The path that was once clear and full of possibility has disappeared from sight. A jackhammer to the asphalt. The words spoken on the other line rip through everything you’ve ever known; the person you were supposed to spend forever with is gone with no hope of return. No other soul can repave this road. No other life can restore the rubbish this world has become.

A relationship is a correlation, a point upon a map. Ex-lovers, ex-spouses, and ex-memories are kinds of pathways that lead you to your destination. The asphalt of those who have left you behind is abandoned as it crumbles into nothingness. The dirt road of your childhood, veiled by overgrown trees and fallen leaves, is forgotten, but life’s odyssey is complex. Detours appear along the way, found in the boyfriend named Regret, the best friend who betrayed you with a kiss, the brother that didn’t believe in the person you chose to be. Each road constructs you as a person. Each road creates a route necessary to reach your final destination. Though you sometimes stray, the roads go on.

Relationships are roads. Each portrays interconnectedness, the formation of the puzzle of human life. Trodden upon, beaten down, newly tarred, or cartographically nonexistent, relationships carve the pathway of humanity's journey.