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Is there a story behind the BEN + NAN 4EVER on the I-66 overpass?

Is there a story behind the BEN + NAN 4EVER on the I-66 overpass?


forever is a long time. 4EVER as well. Can any love last forever?

That’s the question that’s been on my mind Brian Noyce Every time he drives under the overpass on Interstate 66 near Manassas. White paint on the bridge that crosses the Interstate at Grofton Road/Route 622 is the message: BEN + NAN 4EVER.

Brian thinks he first noticed it around 1986, not long after someone—Ben? –painted. At the time, Brian was the art director of The Washington Post Magazine, which was printed in Strasbourg, Virginia. Every week he drives to the factory to check the printing process.

“I see that thing every time I travel,” he said. “It was really fresh back then.”

Is Ben and Nan’s love still so fresh? Or faded like paint?

“I think about them all the time,” Brian said. “Who did this guy? If Ben did it for Nan, was he on this overpass, bent over, writing upside down? Did a buddy’s ankle hang?”

What Brian really wants to know is: Are they still together?

If Ben and Nan were teenagers in the mid-1980s, they are now in their 50s. Do they chuckle every time they see “BEN + NAN 4EVER” while driving to see their grandchildren?

“What did Nan think?” Brian was thoughtful. “She was sold? Is that the deal?”

Or is she ashamed and never more than 4EVER?Late one night, Ben drew those capital letters, convinced that it was Exactly The way to convince Nan of his eternal love? But did Nan wince when she saw it?Is it more proof that Ben doesn’t know her? fundamental?

Is this Jack and Diane? John Mellenkamp Is the song still a less melodic, more dissonant tune?

Many overpasses on I-66 are being replaced. While this one has survived to this day, Brian sometimes wonders if it will ever be demolished. Overpasses don’t last forever. Don’t paint either. Do Ben and Nan have them?

“Someone in the Manassas/Prince William County area probably knows who they are,” Brian said.

Brian no longer drives down I-66 to check print jobs, but he does drive a lot. He swapped an art director’s computer for a pie maker’s oven. Brian is the owner of Red Truck Rural Bakery, with locations in Manassas and Marshall, Virginia. They make really good pies and other delicious baked goods.

Brian and his spouse, Dwight McNeillives in Arlington, which means Brian is driving back and forth on meIt’s always been 66. Recently he was in Marshall for a company picnic at Red Truck. Before heading home, he carefully packaged hamburgers, hot dogs and side dishes for the couple to enjoy at dinner.

Then I-66 did what I-66 often does: it stopped. Dash forward and read one of VDOT’s variable signs, all lanes are closed.

Safely still, Brian texted Dwight that he would be late.

Then Dwight did what he always does: “He was always jumping online to track issues,” Brian said. “Sometimes he’d even say, ‘You should get on and off Route 50’ or something.”

Not only did Dwight relay various traffic reports to Brian, he also turned on VDOT’s traffic cameras. Then it dawned on Dwight that he might actually be able to find Brian on one of the live broadcasts.

“The red car behind you?” Dwight texted.

“No,” Brian replied. “Silver. Next to me is a white van with a ladder.”

“There’s no shortage of those,” Dwight responded, flipping through the camera feed.

“I’ll keep telling him about the mile marker,” Brian said. “He’ll scroll down and find them.”

Then around Mile Marker 62 — after Brian passed a portable toilet in the middle, and a few distances behind a tractor-trailer from Target — Dwight spotted the familiar silver car on his computer screen. Ford Escape. “I see you!” he texted.

“Traffic is usually very anxious, and it makes me feel like someone’s with me,” Brian said.

In fact, the entire traffic jam has a festive, communal atmosphere.

“There was a guy who sang opera with the window down,” Brian said. “We all looked at each other and laughed. It really made it as enjoyable as possible.”

I’m going to take some time off. I should be back in this space on August 1st. Until then, keep calm.


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