It’s the secret back roads that only you know, while the other cars crawl like herded sheep. It’s the spot where you almost fell asleep that one night…or maybe it was already morning. Either way, it was darker and later than your eyes approved of, and as your head jerked back to attention you whispered the words “never again” to yourself.
Right here, this is the best stretch to get a good last look at the molten-sky; clouds like embers, burning from the golden sun. And right about here is where those old familiar smells push in through the car windows. This light takes exactly this many seconds to turn green when the adjacent light turns red. This bump here, that pothole there, the creaks in the suspension. Muscle-memory takes over.
Blinker. Turn. You’re on autopilot.
You’re not sure if you’re still driving the car, or if it’s that car that’s driving you now. Speed limit signs are nice reminders, but your foot already knows them all. Each road is a song. Distances are no longer measured by miles, lights or even turns (although you could accurately recount them all) but by how much of your favorite album you can get through before pulling up.
You’ve mastered the art of driving while your mind is a thousand miles away, much like sleeping with your eyes open. You think of how many times you’ve been on this same road. How many hours, days and years you’ve given to it. You think back to all the times you’ve thought about this and realize you’re fulfilling a day you imagined would be oh-so-far in the future, yet has come so quick. You think of the different cars and friends you’ve taken on this tour, maybe even back to a time when you were the one in the passenger seat, or even still, the back seat. The road has become a hallway; each tree or telephone pole, each sign or street light, each lake or meadow, another picture on the wall of times past.
There was even that one time you managed the pedals while your friend took the wheel for the whole ride. But that’s another story…
It’s all the same language and you’ve heard it time and time again. You would consider yourself fluent by now. It’s a constant conversation held between you and the road. And there’s only one topic that ever seems to come up…