Stories Behind the Wheel
There is nothing quite as freeing as a drive to nowhere special. Jumping behind the wheel without a map. without a plan; just driving, going to go on and on. The feel of wheels beneath me, of motion, of change. The radio on full blast, the music flowing face to back, pouring over me in my travels, and me, singing along loud and without care.
My car is not a shiny new thing. It is not a status symbol or an object of desire. It is not something beautiful to behold. My car is just four wheels and a couple of worn seats. It is just a means to an end, a stepping stone to the open road. It is my freedom.
Some days I choose to drive alone, taking a road not taken before, a kind of urban adventure. Just randomly choosing a new path to look at, writing stories in my head as I move along, deciding who the woman is on the corner with the sad smile and the wild brown curls. She is wearing an orange dress that seems a little too short, the one she keeps tugging at with her right hand. She swings a black backpack across her left shoulder. She is today’s heroine.
She is Lannie, a college girl with a Psychology major and a musician boyfriend. She owns a guitar, but he is the only one who plays it. She is so cold some nights when she lies in his arms, afraid that she will never be able to really let go. She is afraid of stepping past her expectations. She wears bright colors to hide her insecurities. She wears bright colors to be different because being different is what you’re supposed to do. Dating a musician is different. She so wants to be different.
I turn the corner and Lannie is gone. Now there is a red brick house, perfect looking, five tin cans lined up in a neat little row in the front and pretty pink and yellow flowers blooming in the yard. The daily newspaper lies untouched on the end of the driveway. Does Lannie live here? Could my car fit in front of this house? Is this a place I could live? I drive on.
Some days I miss driving with you. The days you used to ride me around in your grey truck, sitting high above the world, looking down at the road. I can still remember how it felt to hold your hand while you held the gear shift, or those late Summer afternoons when I would fall asleep with my head on your worn blue jeans. You always let me pick the radio stations. You liked to sing along with me. We never did take that road trip, did we?
I take road trips every day. The day is what you make it, you know. I try to drive farther away from myself sometimes. I try to forget it all. Miles go and my heart is still here. I write. I use pen and paper and my mind to get over the mess I always end up in. But it is driving that really heals, the road, the music played, singing, losing myself in the speed limits, testing the limits, breaking the limits. Some days I just break.
Roads (live) :: Portishead