old endings, new beginnings
Just drive. That’s the thing about escape, the nostalgia of it all. No one quite knows why, but as you speed away from the place you’ve always been, it evokes a sort of magnetic nostalgia in the gut of your stomach, and it climbs. It climbs its way through the trachea, it causes a blockage in the throat and dwells under your tongue, like a mole hiding under the ground pushing all the dirt up. It keeps climbing until it fills your head and it pours out your reddening eyes, filling your perspective with this sort of euphoric sense of now. Your tear-filled eyes are glued to the road just as your right foot is glued to the gas pedal, even though you feel a sort of magnetic pull in your gut attached to the very place you are speeding away from, you do the only thing you can at this point. You drive.
My fists tightened around the steering wheel, making my knuckles go white as snow. My head was cloudy with tears as I turned my radio up to hear Bob Dylan’s droning familiarity over the pounding of the rain. “Come gather round people wherever you roam...” it beckoned “And admit that the waters around you have grown.” I joined in “And accept it that soon, you'll be drenched to the bone! If your time to you is worth saving.” It went on like that for a long time, my eyes crying tears, and the sky crying rain, and Dylan crying that the times were a changin’. I looked out at the rain-smeared corn fields as the loneliness settled in, like the little mole got tired of pushing all the dirt up, and decided to make itself comfortable, weighing on the back of my throat. I rubbed the rest of the tears out of my bloodshot eyes with one last snivel, and reached for my phone. Keeping one eye on the highway, I start typing a name into the search bar. P. A. R. S. O. N. Charles Parson.
The name seemed to give the nostalgia a new strength, evoking all those memories that you look back on, and it makes you happy and sad at the same time, triggering them like a finger on a chain of dominoes. I remembered him from when we were little. His little button nose that sat between those huge brown eyes and the curiosity that lit a flame in his belly. The call button lit my face up green as I glanced at the dark highway. But Then I saw. I saw a drenched silhouette with its thumb pointed patiently towards the angry heavens. I heard my dad’s concerned voice in my head “Hitch hikers end up in the human trafficking ring! You know that!” But I never heard him say anything about picking them up. So I pulled off to the side, My heart humming in my chest as the backpacked figure sprinted toward the passenger side. He was so soaked that it gave me goosebumps just to look at him. He was a tall guy, he looked youngish, which really took the edge off my fear. But still, serial killers do exist. Sociopaths look just like you and me and one in four women will get raped in their lifetime.
The door flew open, and the roar of rain on pavement poured into the Volvo with a rush of white noise. He stuffed his huge pack onto the floor in front of his feet as he reached for the door handle. “You have to slam it kinda hard.” I said, the sound of the rain covering my apprehension. He slammed it. He sat, his chest rising and falling deeply as he caught his breath. Staring at the grey felt roof of my car, water was dripping from his loose brown curls onto his stubbled face.
“Dylan. Nice.” he said as he turned to look at me, still breathing hard and smiling “I’m Sam.” His hand extended over the center console.
“Rainey” I replied with a laugh. Shaking it.
“That, my friend, Is ridiculously ironic.” he said with a buoyant laugh that accompanied Mr. Tambourine man quite nicely “Pretty name though.”
“Thanks. So where are you headed?” I asked as I pulled out onto the dark, barren highway.
“I guess wherever you’re headed. I don’t really know at this point in space and time. I mean, does anyone really?” he said as he fumbled around in one of the pockets of his pack.
“Well I guess that makes two of us then…” I said.
“Are you okay?” he retorted bluntly “You seem like you’ve been crying.”
I ignored him “What are you doing?”
“Rolling a joint.” he said.
“Right now?” I normally would have freaked out, like, you don’t just light up in some random stranger’s car. Probably the most rude thing you could do. I mean, at least ask.
“Yeah right now,” I could hear the smile on his voice “ as good a time as any don’t you think?”
But as I look back on it, it really wasn’t a random meeting, plus, I could go for a good high at that point in space and time. “I guess it is…” Every time I smoked anything before, guilt would sulk out of it’s lair and reminded me how many times my oh-so-loving parents had instructed me specifically “Not to use Marijuana.” But right now that did not matter, I was a free woman. I could risk fucking my life up without their consent.
He pulled out a plain, red lighter, sat back in his seat and held the flame over the end until it glowed a bright red-orange in the dark of the car. Breath in. Breath out. The green, earthy smell filled every corner of the car like helium in a balloon, or you know, weed in a car. he passed me the expertly rolled joint and said “Here lean over, I’ll give you a light.” So I did, and he did.
Breath in. Breathe out. “What are the chances of that?” I said with smoke still exiting my lungs.
“The chances of what?” He asked before he took another glowing puff.
“Your eyes. You have brown hair, but your eyes are blue.” I was pulled into the ever-present now, noticing the glints of rain on the road, and apparently the blue in Sam’s eyes.
He laughed “I have no fucking idea. Probably 100x better than the chances of me getting picked up by someone who’s not bat-shit crazy.” He said with a chuckle.
“You don’t know me.” I said jokingly, letting out a loud laugh.
We passed that joint until the glowing orange end singed our fingers and sound waves from the sixties flowed into our minds, turning our lives into a story, turning time into a joke.
There’s something about being stoned in a car at night with someone that bonds you to them. There are some things in life that do that to people. Its like when JK Rowling talks about how when you slay a big troll in the girls bathroom with someone, you instantly become friends. Sam and I, we slew a big bathroom troll that night. “ So. wanna go to Colorado?” I asked, breaking the pensive silence with my obviously weed-inspired revelation. I was already headed in that direction like my subconscious already knew that was where we were going.
“Yeah, man. Let’s go look at mountains. We should find a campground tonight first though, and we can go when the sun is on this side of the earth.” he said sleepily “Just follow the exit signs that have the little campy icon…wake me up when we get there.” His eyelids fell heavy over his bloodshot eyes as he drifted away against the the dark window. Breathe in. Breathe out.
With the high white noise of a chirping frog chorus penetrating the open windows, I rolled passed the hand-painted sign that read “Pokly Park Campground” in red letters. I looked over at Sam, fast asleep, his neck crooked at an odd angle. I nudged him until he awoke rubbing his eyes with a long intake of oxygen. “Sam?”
“Hmm… yeah” he said as he looked over at me with a tired gaze
“Were at the campground.” I gazed back
“Did…you get a site?”
“Uh, how…exactly?” I said, an inquisitive expression crossing my face. He chuckled at me.
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll go talk to the owner.” he said with a smile, the passenger door creaked open and he got out of the car. He slammed the door shut and leaned on the window. “Ill be right back.”
I watched him wade through the mist towards the landlord’s rickety house, he knocked on the door. I just breathed my lungs full of the crisp night air and let my eyelids fall as I listened to the lights turn on from inside and Sam apologize for waking the old man as they went into the house. There’s something about nighttime air that just enters your body and envelopes your brain in this ecstatic spontaneity. The kind of energy that makes you want to sprint as fast as you can, it doesn't matter where you're going, as long as your heart is thrumming in your chest, and that cool air is ripping through your lungs. It floods your mind with memories of trying not to let the door squeak as you escape your cage at three in the morning and a deep loathing for street lamps, for they blind your vision of the stars. The stars, a relic of the past that we can always have as long as we can look out into the sky. A memory that cannot be forgotten.