The grip was as I remembered. The bumps underneath my fingers
, positioned in a way I could never put into words, but instantly recognizable as I wrapped my fingers around it.
The sound of the door as I pulled it shut
, I must have heard that hundreds of times. Another thing so recognizable, yet not something I could ever articulate.
It had been years since I saw it. I had left, trying to gather myself, trying to decide what was real
. And there I was, back again, not sure if things had changed.
It still fit like an old glove. All the memories on the road
rushed back. There was the crack left by debris from the gravel truck. There were the scratches from trying to park too close to the stone pillar.
It had been turning into addiction. I didn't know if I needed to get away. I'd spent years trying to find I didn't know what, but I was back. It seemed the addiction was still there, so easy to fall into
It smelled like lazy afternoons, the wind in my hair. It smelled like rain streaming across the windshield and the pounding rhythm of the wipers. It smelled like music turned up enough to shake the mirrors. Like returning to an old neighborhood, I knew every imperfection and the stories behind them
. Everyone has their own childhood. This was mine.
And the return was easy. The trees flew by, the turns taken at speeds much higher than I would recommend for anybody. It brought out a recklessness in me that I could not find anywhere else
. This was my territory, and here I was in full control, omniscient and invincible.
It wasn't good for me.
That's what I told myself in my more rational moments. I needed time away, to get my head on straight. Every time I came back, I turned into a different person. I couldn't trust myself
. There was nothing I could handle in quite the same way, nothing else that could become an extension of my body.
So easy to come back, so easy to take it out for a short spin. Just five minutes was what I'd tell myself
. Five minutes turned into an hour. An hour that lasted past midnight.
There had been a period I got into so much trouble the cops knew it was me before they even approached the door. I was becoming a type of regular I didn't want to be, and did not need to be again. I never drove intoxicated, the experience itself was intoxicating enough
. And I was afraid it would take me where I didn't want to go.In the years I was gone
, new branches grew out of my life, possibilities that would have never sprouted if I had stayed. And yet on the day I returned, I was ready to throw all of it away to return to my past.
I knew what I was supposed to do. I knew what everyone else wanted me to do. I knew the sane and socially acceptable thing to do
. But I didn't want to do any of it. I wanted to drown myself in my childhood once again.
Each time I took it out just magnified all my previous memories on the road, flooding me with a thousand half-forgotten adventures, now ready to be fully relived again. I didn't want it to stop. I knew they would tell me to stop. They would tell me it wasn't good for me
, that I was going to throw my future away again.
I didn't want to go back. They wouldn't be able to tell me what I didn't want to hear
if I wasn't there. What right did they have to tell me how to live? I wasn't living their lives for them, I was living mine.
A few weeks after getting it back, I got in, cranked the ignition, and never went back again. Ahead of me was open road. I had no definitive plans. Only possibilities
Yes I had thrown my life away
. But it wasn't a life I wanted. It was a life they wanted. Now I was entering a new one, one that I chose for myself, their bad advice be damned. And I didn't have to be around to hear them complain. The only thing I needed to hear was the wind rushing past the windows when I left the range of the radio stations.