The year is 1994 and I am eight years old. My daddy and I are on the way to Uncle Rob's so I can play with Katie and Cameron. It is a stifling 90 degrees; typical summertime in Salt Lake. He unzips the faded tan top of the red Jeep Wrangler, and stuffs it in the backseat. With his tanned muscular arms, he lifts me up into the front seat, reaching across my lap to buckle me in. He smells like wood chips, pine needles and sweat. “Daddy, can we listen to that one song, pleaseeeee?” I ask. He knows the one, and pushes it into the deck, turning the volume knob all the way up at the same time the engine rumbles to life. She sits alone by a lamppost, trying to find a thought that's escaped her mind. She says Dad's the one I love the most... He backs out of the steep driveway, and I rest my arm on the window, letting my fingers dangle and the wind wrap and tickle across my palm. Darting out onto Highway 15, huge gusts of wind blow in through the absent roof, swooshing my brown hair upward, the individual strands each doing their own unique dance, cooling me from the suffocating Utah heat.
The year is 1999 and I am thirteen years old. A group of us pile into the white GMC van, settling in for our journey home from summer camp. The bus is hot, so we crack open the windows as we merge onto the highway. I lean into Adam’s chest, letting him wrap his skinny dark arms around my stomach. He lets out a contented sigh, the sound of a boy who is exactly where he wants to be. I sigh in exasperation, close my eyes and pretend to drift asleep. His arm is heavy across my chest, causing the sweat to drip down my stomach and soak into the top of my khaki shorts. I want to shrug it off but I don’t. I too am tired. Besides, I need to keep up this stupid charade. I strain to hear Josh talking in the seat behind me, whispering quietly to Tiffany. I hate her. FIF is blasting from the van’s weak speakers, and the wind keeps mussing up my hair. Dear Father, I need you, Your strength my heart to mend. I want to fly higher, Every new day again... Despite my efforts, I cannot hear Josh’s words over the music. I give up and settle into Adams chest. This will become a trend in my life. It is not what I really want, but it will do. For now.
The year is 2003 and I am seventeen years old. After backing the car into the sandy beach Josh stops his dad's Cherokee and pops the hatchback. He clambers in, moving his guitar over to the side and arranging pillows and blankets across the floor. He pulls a white rose from his guitar case and hands it to me shyly. With shaking hands I take it nervously, smiling genuinely. He helps me into the back and we turn to face the indescribable beauty of the sunset. Josh strums a quiet background to my thoughts, my favorite song. I fear this love reaction, just like you said I would. A rose could never lie, about the love it brings... He picks through the love song, and then rests the guitar against the seat, reaching for my hand and lacing his fingers through mine. Brilliant hues of pink and orange paint across the sky, and the sound of the lapping waves is soothing. Leaning into the pillows, Josh's arm draped around my shoulders, I close my eyes and breathe in the perfect innocence of the moment. I cannot think of anywhere else I would rather be in the entire world, than here with him. Right now.
The year is 2005 and I am nineteen years old. I push Carlos out of my way, and run through the front door slamming it behind me. I sprint down the stairs, taking them two at a time as the tears streaming down my face blur my vision of the Lake Claire parking lot. I unlock my car and jump in, flipping through my CD case to find the one thing that will feed my fury. In Love and Death screams through the speakers and I crank it up, rolling down the windows. If we cut out the bad well then we'd have nothing left, like I cut up your angels, yeah you stabbed me to death...I want him to hear, to feel the sincerity of my wrath. Sure enough as I peal out of the parking lot, leaving behind long black skid marks on the asphalt, I glance up to the third floor and I see his face fill the window, shadowed by the darkness. We'd had another fight and perhaps this one was the last. Furious words were shouted, each one dripping with more disdain and hopelessness, verbal grenades reverberating off the whitewashed dormitory walls. Our relationship had always been volatile, marked that way from the beginning. I scream along with the band as I merged into traffic on I-4. I don’t have anywhere to go, but I need to drive. Fast. Protected by the iron and steel body of the Oldsmobile my music screeches out of the speakers. Deafening. The outside world whips by the window and I ignore it all, forgetting everything. For now.
The year is 2007 and I am twenty-one years old. “You’re driving” I say as I toss Andrew the keys. He opens the door for me, and I curl into a ball in the passenger seat, wrapping my arms around my legs trying to warm my body. I brush the sand off my feet. He walks around to the driver’s side and turns the heat on extra high, angling all the air vents towards me. We had just spent the cold December night at the beach, wrapped in blankets, singing and dancing in the moonlight. A wonderfully spontaneous evening under the stars. I lean across the seat and kiss him hard, running my fingers through his blonde hair. He is so beautiful. He smiles that perfect grin. With his blue eyes twinkling he picks up my iPod and after scanning through the artists he finally comes to rest on Marvin Gaye. He holds my hand and sings to me in his soulful pitch-perfect voice. We’re all sensitive people with so much to give. Understand me sugar, since we got to be, let’s live... I laugh, kissing him on the neck, momentarily distracting his attention from the road. I lean back in the seat and rest my feet on the dash. It won’t last. Saccharine smooth-talking never does, the shallowness shows eventually. But he’s gorgeous and charming and he makes me feel pretty. It won’t last. But for now, it will do.
The year is 2009 and I am twenty-two years old. I wake up slowly, pack my things, grab my car keys and hit the road. I drive too fast, but I am skillful and confident; whipping around the slow-moving trucks and hopelessly lost tourists. It is a balmy 85 degrees and all four of my windows are rolled down. I pull out onto 1-4 and the wind catches my hair, twisting it into a messy red knot that I will assuredly regret later. But right now I don’t care. The Eagles are blasting through the speakers, forever my comfort music, as I leave Orlando behind in a bitter trail of dust. Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand. Just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy... I am stressed, and tired, and lonely. But tomorrow will worry about itself. Right now I want nothing more than this exquisite tango of rubber and pavement. For the next two hours I will relinquish my fears and insecurities. I will forget their faces and I will find my community in these lyrics. I will wink at my fellow patients of the road, relax in the therapy of the drive, and sing unabashedly at the top of my lungs.
1 week ago