Long highway driving makes for a giddy time. I am all bubbles in my excitement; If they pop, I blow another one through the magic wand, equally large as the first. I could go on like this. Exciting to get away and drive drive drive with someone I love. The trees are different in this part of the country. The grass smells sweeter than I’ve ever smelt it. The car smells clean and has been vacuumed and tidied so expertly, I think the last time it felt like this was the day we bought it. Distantly I can smell the bag of pretzels we’ve recently opened. Country music twangs on the radio, and I don’t mind it. The day has not yet given way to the full height of summer temperature. Right now it is cool.
I look through the windshield and watch the road; I count the white dashes that split the lanes and take in a big breath. We gave the windshield a good wash at the last gas station and it looks clear and pristine and promising. I kick up my feet in the passenger seat, pushing my sunglasses further along the bridge of my nose so they do not slip, and adjust the seat back – just a little – and close my eyes.
We are heading South. The bubbles turn into butterflies as I think about what awaits us. I rest my head on the window and take a good, hard look at myself in the side view mirror. Could someone please take a picture of my peak of coolness? I feel the motor rumbling, vibrating against my head from the window. It is gentle, but there. I slip off my shoes to get more comfortable and start humming along to the country tune on the radio. It’s Johnny Cash. I love Johnny Cash. In this moment, he makes me want to roll the window down and smoke a hand-rolled cigarette – and I don’t even smoke. He makes me want to stop the car, go to the bar, and order whiskeys all day long. He makes me want to meet a lover I know is bad for me, but whose attraction I can’t deny. A reckless fantasy pulses through my veins on this Sunday, daytime hour. Makes me feel more alive than Church ever did.
“Pretzel?” My father offers, ripping me out of –