Words and roads

Road 1

I take the familiar roads too fast sometimes — but only because I know them as well as the long line of freckles on my right arm. When you’ve spent your lifetime in, near or along a patch of land, that landscape impresses on your skin. It becomes you.

Roads hold a strange fascination for me. I love maps, love staring at the constellations of streets that can take you from point A to winding point B. I got my driver’s license as soon as I was able, popping behind the wheel of my dad’s old Toyota when I was 16, and the freedom of driving — of being out, being loose — isn’t something I take for granted.

When I was commuting to college, cars whizzing along the haphazard Beltway, I remember driving home on an unusually warm winter day. Bright sunshine bleached long lines of salt on the roads; warm air beckoned us to crack our windows. I was young, rather brokenhearted . . . still processing the end of a first love. A two-hour round-trip drive is a long time to be alone. Though music couldn’t always clear the mind, I played it — Jimmy Eat World, Maroon 5, Death Cab for Cutie — on loop.

To my right was a sedan driven by a businessman, tie loosened and shirtsleeves rolled up. Slowly, tentatively, the other driver stuck his left hand out of the window. The wind caught between his fingers. He made a fist, opened the fist — like he was trying to hold it.

At the time, it was an incredibly hopeful sight.


It’s strange the memories that return to you — little moments that invade when you least expect them. I usually listen to audiobooks in the car, spending my short commute lost in stories, but yesterday my book ended before my drive did. I dug around in my dashboard for a CD and found Maroon 5 — an old album I hadn’t listened to in years.

I thought of the tired businessman reaching, hand extending into the sunshine. I thought of winter ending, the thaw and hope and promise of something new.

I sang loudly along, voice hoarse with the near-forgotten lyrics.

But they were still there. They trickled back, one by one.

14 thoughts on “Words and roads

  1. Thankyou for sharing this. I felt that you could have been writing my own thoughts as I often feel the same πŸ™‚


  2. Love this post. It’s crazy the way moments come back to you like that. I find that songs can really trigger strong memories. I have a pretty long commute to college (although, it’s not nearly as picturesque as yours) and I have quite a few similar mundane, but somehow, oh so unique, moments that stand out. Thanks for this!


  3. I loved this post! Sometimes I just want to drive, without stopping. Some music, the silence, the familiar places is all it takes for memories to come back to linger like the perfume on my clothes. I don’t commute to college, but the strange thing is that I feel the same way sometimes even when I just walk to my college. The trees, the people passing by and the fresh unpolluted morning air; sometimes a walk is all it takes to transport me to another place or time.


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