You just met. You barely know each other. You take your 1996 Isuzu Rodeo and drive south from the Twin Cities. You listen to the forecast on the radio—an April blizzard—and feel like you’re getting away with something, or at least from something. Bullet dodged.
By the time the scenery is all sky, no scrapers, you’re already in love, the kind of love hastened by over-the-limit speed and heightened by the car’s taut, charged space. Your own private universe. You connect the freckles on your hand, forming constellations.
By the time you reach Omaha, you have already made your plans together for the next week, the next year, the next five years. Your pronouns are mutual—what’s mine is yours is ours. You stop at a bar with a neon sign flickering the promise of CO D DR NKS where you make a toast to the middle of nowhere. Hear, hear. There are worse things to toast to.
By the time you reach Denver, you have run out of things to talk about. You turn up the radio and listen to the chart-toppers of yesteryear at punishing decibels. You watch the muted fury of an approaching thunderstorm and take photos that are one hundred percent cloudy with a chance of rain. You never get the film developed.
By the time you reach Albuquerque, the radio has stopped working. The car’s undiagnosed malfunctions fill the silence and you find unexpected solace in the irritable squeal of brakes, the engine’s death rattle, the hacks of exhaust. You shift in your seat as if you’re trying to rewrite your body into a different language—something scrawled, something illegible. You hide behind the fiction of a forced smile.
By the time you reach Phoenix, the orchestra of complaints has built to a crescendo. While a mechanic works your car, you refuel in a strip club with a lunch buffet and eat a have-you-no-decency amount of lasagna. Extra napkins required.
With your car fixed, you head back home, where your choices will necessarily sink into consequences and caprice will slump into the same old, same old. But between here and there stretches a paved liminality. You roll down the window and breathe in the blank air.