The air smells of mud, heavy and rich – this is the smell of Mississippi; the big river is only a few miles away. I’ve always lived near water … I think my blood must smell like mud. I get into my car and roll down the windows – it’s still a little cool, but the sweet smell in the air is worth the chill. The day is finally over and I take a few deep breaths before I start the drive home. The trip is short, only 15 minutes, but tonight – most nights – I savor the time to myself. For this one moment, I do not belong to anyone. I am no one’s girlfriend, employee, caretaker, friend, daughter. I am just Amy. I am my purest self.
I adjust my mirror, put on my seatbelt, turn on the mp3 player hooked to my dash. It sits in my hand like a small round stone. I’ve been driving a car without a radio for months until today so I relish my song choices tonight. I don’t even have to search to find a perfect song – the first track that plays is Cypress Hill’s Hits from the Bong. As I pull out of the parking lot I crank up the radio loud and sing along louder. I dare you to be in a bad mood while singing along to that song.
The night sky is bright, so bright. They say the moon won’t be this close to the earth again for 20 years, 18 years, something. It’s full and looks like I could touch it if only I could reach a little further than my fingertips. I steal glance after glance at the moon through my windshield. There are no lights on the interstate, no other cars nearby – nothing dims this moon tonight. It seems like nothing ever could.
Cypress Hill is over and now it’s Ruby Soho, I have to skip a few songs to get to this one. I don’t remember all the words; I never remember them all. I sing along anyway. The words I know I sing the loudest. Destination unknown. This speaks to me. I know where I’m going; I’m going home. But I don’t know where I’ll end up.
As I take my exit, I search again. I’m not looking for anything in particular, until I hear Mr. Jones. I know all the words, all the notes. I drive a little slower as I approach my street, I want to hear the whole song. Believe in me, ’cause I don’t believe in anything. My dog watches curiously as I park the car but don’t get out. I turn off the lights and let the last notes fade before I roll up the windows and open the door. I take one last deep breath, then drop my hand to the dog’s head in greeting. And suddenly I belong to someone again. I am pet owner, girlfriend, shopgirl.
But there will always be the drive home.