Who would have ever thought that the backseat of a car could be so comfortable? It really didn't matter, that has never stopped me from sleeping when I'm exhausted.
I snuggle my arms up close to my body and nestle my head in close to the familiar gray fabric while bringing my knees up to my chest to keep warm. On cold snowy nights like this, it's all I can do until I get into bed. I know my dad is driving much more carefully and slowly because I'm asleep in the back, and I drift off into a warm dreamland.
The thing that wakes me is the slow deceleration of the car and the faintly rich click of the right turn signal... that turn signal that has woken me every time I sleep in a car. I blink a few times, yawn a little bit, and then the cold hits me. It creeps up the back of my jacket, in under my pantlegs, through the collar and sleeves... but we're pulling into the driveway. Dad turns off the ignition and slowly opens his door. The light almost blinds me and I squeeze my eyes shut, hoping that maybe I could will the light off. He comes around and opens my door and lifts me out of the backseat and carries me inside the house. I remember making the trip up to my bedroom in his arms many many times.
Fast forward twelve years:
I'm driving home, and my fifteen year old brother is the only one left in the truck. He fell asleep before I dropped the last person off at his car, so he stays in the backseat, cuddled up to the cold leather. I turn the heat up and point the vents at him, even though I'm sweltering. Every once in a while I'll glance back, to make sure my driving hasn't knocked him onto the floor. I smile to myself.
I brake slowly and cautiously, and turn on the turn signal. The interior of the truck is dark and the only light outside is the faint yellow glow of the streetlight above. The temperature, the slow deceleration, the turn signal... the funniest things trigger tiny memories, don't they?
Then I wonder: does he have the same fondness for the sound of a turn signal waking him up as I do?
"Probably not." I convince myself as I pull into our driveway and open up his door. I'd try and carry him to his room, but he outweighs me and has about eight inches on me, plus he's basically unconscious.
I bet someday he'll cradle his child in his arms and carry him to bed, just as our father did for us.