Thursday, December 24, 2009

Open Roads

I wish I could relay that I'm snug at home right now, surrounded by Christmas cookies and family but I'm working. I technically get holidays off, but tell that to the bat phone.



I was out the door in the very early morning hours yesterday. A quick message to the friend who takes care of Barkley if my day runs late. It would have been easy to feel sorry for myself, being up that early when half the world is on holiday leave, but I found something exhilarating about climbing into that truck, coffee in hand, and putting on some classic music. In my truck now a collection of songs from the 70's. Entering adulthood at the tail end of that decade I remember that music well.



I thought back to that time, as the miles clicked under my wheels, time when I could only dream of having a big truck like this, and freedom. Getting older doesn't bother me, living this life does not either. I may not be home 8 to 5 and the life can sometimes be lonely, but how many of the kids I graduated with have days where they get to drive a big 4 x 4 to the airport to be picked up by a private jet because someone needs my skills. I answer to just a few, mainly to myself, the hardest responsibility of all. I wouldn't trade it for anything, if only that I can finally own a cool vehicle or two.

My first set of wheels was technically a small blue bicycle that transported me from one adventure to the next. My first automobile was another matter. What I wanted was a muscle car. What I GOT was a high mileage VW Bug. NOT exactly the wheels I had envisioned. But all the family budget would allow.


Insurance was reasonable with straight A's, but gas was the biggest part of my budget. Dad expected us to pay our own expenses with a car, and he did keep tabs on where I was in it as best he could. It was a rural town, traffic was light and crime was nonexistent. We roamed in our cars as we did on our bikes, cruising up and down main street like sharks watching for tourists, anxious to see if anyone had anything nicer than we had, looking for new faces in a crowd of kids who had all played together since kindergarten. You never saw kids in their parent's expensive cars, what we were in, we bought ourselves, and fixed up ourselves, Glass Pack Mufflers, 8 Track Players and afternoons under a hood instead of hanging around a mall.


Some folks down the road here bought their kid a new SUV when he turned 16. He's been in and out of juvie so many times for fights and vandalism, I've lost count. When he wrecked it they bought him a new one. They pay for his gas and expenses because as Dad says "he doesn't want to work at McDonalds". They see no correlation between his spoiling and his growing criminal record.


My first car was as cheap as it came. It didn't even have a radio, so we stuck this giant tape player under the right hand glove box where I would come screaming home after classes (well as screaming as you could in a VW Bug) with music playing way too loud through the speakers.But soon I was graduated, and on my own and I had to buy my OWN wheels. There have been many cars, most not very new, a truck or two, and my all time favorite, a 67 Barracuda 383S which we somehow managed to stuff a 440 big block in to.


My love affair with machinery started young. Girlhood dreams sung to the tune of "Radar Love", a very well used tape from a Dutch band, one I inherited from my older brother and listened to regularly, years after it had faded from the airwaves. Miles and miles of dreaming about the freedom I'd have when I grew up and became an adult.Then somehow I became an adult and that much awaited freedom came with it too many things to do, responsibilities blocking that open road.

What happened to those days of curving roads and youth? Somehow they vanished with a mute, befitting, hollow sound, which drove for only a moment upon us, with the dreadful still hush of motion stopped, too abruptly to mourn.



As I headed out into the frozen night, I opened the door outside, the house still, myself, utterly motionless. In hastily donned black pants, jacket, granola bar, passport in bag, always with me, in case, I look out onto the driveway, listening. On my face is a look of adulthood come too early and following me around like a reservation dog. For many, today is one of rest, but I'm OK that it will not be for me, for within me I'm restless.

I open the door to my vehicle, the door creaking gently open so not to wake Barkley in the house. It's a large truck, extended cab, with a short bed. It cost as much as homes used to and serves me well, serves me practically. On it's stereo is Vivaldi and Celtic music, sedate adult music that I listened to on the drive home. As I go to climb in, I catch a reflection in the side window of my truck and see a small smile. I think today I'll listen to something else.


I look forward to the long drive; for just an hour, no chores, no errands, no responsibilities. No speed limits. I silently climb in, as if sneaking out, and fit my form into the leather seats with a lascivious eagerness that is wasted on youth. "Time to get going!" I say to myself as I do each morning in my quiet room, waking up cold, when that last full exhalation of sleep has left my form and I look from beyond the portals of sleep to yet another new day of adventure. As I turn on the stereo I head out of the drive.

Windows cleared, the road is mine. The neighborhood is still asleep. It's just me and my ride, miles of road interspersed with the angular cuts of farm land, ringed with blue/black sky. I sort through old CD's at a stop sign, selecting some not listened to for a long time. I salute the road, with a small burst of gravel, fabric against my skin, the sound of cotton and warm flesh in action, the heat of the road in me.

Ahead is only the miles, with nothing to do but take in the passing landscape. My home is more than a small house, my life more than work and heartache, it's this whole open world. Up ahead a horizon, up above a sky, inscrutable, desolate above the land it wombs. I surge from a stoplight, Billy Idol with a rebel yell, hitting the highway. Adulthood can wait for just a few hours. There will be enough time to put on my professional demeanor in just a few hours, but the hours are inconsequential to me now. Time doesn't matter when I'm on the road. My age doesn't matter with the steering wheel under my hand. The asphalt flows past, black sleeves and alabaster hands, my lips forming into soundless words, the thump of the beat of the music, pounding along with my youthful heart.



I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel

There's a voice in my head that drives my heel

It's my baby callin', says I need you here

And it's half past four and I'm shifting gear

26 comments:

  1. Christmas is in the heart, Brigid. Its a shame you won't be sharing it with you loved ones this year. Still, the calendar date is arbitrary and the fact that people don't celebrate it when it suits them is also a shame.

    I myself am on call and have a tremendous amount of shoveling ahead of me this holiday season (I'm in MPLS MN and a major snowstorm is on its way with several inches already on the ground).

    Its nice you are sharing you Christmas Eve Day with us (As I eat my Breakfast of stew).

    Merry Christmas, Brigid.

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  2. Side note, Brigid (To be deleted of course):

    I was on my way to the home Depot and saw a bumper sticker that said 'Vote Barkley' and immediately thought of your dog.

    After googling the name, I saw that he was running for senator here in Minnesota.

    http://www.shakopeenews.com/community/shakopee11/vote_barkley_senator

    Maybe your dog should try again this year? ;)

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  3. Godspeed and Merry Christmas. Thrush side pipes, FM radio, 8 track, Monica (perhaps shouldn’t include her, but she does fit between the 8 track and cassette. Hahaha), cassette, cd, mp3, satellite radio... all great improvements to our basic transportation. Our generation sure has seen a lot of change. But I also learned as you have..."I answer to just a few, mainly to myself, the hardest responsibility of all."

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  4. Sorry you are on the road, but "Vaya con Deos". The holidays are special to me too, but before I "pulled the pin" I would always work on Christmas to make sure the guys and gals with kids would be home.

    You post brought back a lot of memories, the music, the cars. The 8-track player with the loud "clunk" when it changed, my old Ford Maverick which lived up to it's motto, Fix Or Repair Daily.

    I may not have had a lot of bucks, (I remember sitting on the hood of that same Maverick, while a buddy drove, scouting for "Co-Cola" bottles and cans to trade in for gas money)but that didn't seem to matter. The horizon seemed limitless and the future was so bright, you had to wear shades. I have never been one of those bitter "What if?" kinda guys, looking back and never looking forward, but I have to admit that every now and then, I wish I was back for a short time in those days, at least for a afternoon........

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  5. Merry Christmas wherever you are.

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  6. Are you sure they're after you for your skills, and not for the food that you invariably bring when you're working?

    Forensic skills are a dime a dozen, but food skills are a rare find indeed.

    Hurry home, and have a safe holiday season. And don't forget to give Barkley a treat too!

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  7. Gasp!

    (Kay Ryan, take a load off, ma'am. There's a new sheriff in town.)

    Safe journey, B!

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  8. Reading that put a smile on my face.
    Now I have to go and finish preparing for Christmas dinner tomorrow. Love the blog, by the way.

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  9. Be Safe and have a Merry Christmas wherever you are. It's something we carry inside us, not necessarily something we get from our surroundings.

    Our prayers are with you and hope you come home soon.

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  10. Ah to be 16 again, top down(to ragged to put up) glass packs howling, 8 track screaming, speeding as usual. Wonderful memories.

    68 top down(against the law to be up). Small block purring as I shift into 2nd gear. Driving the speed limit. New memories to be made on the open road. Chevies forever. Life is good.

    See Ya

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  11. Ahh, Brigid. You just put me back in a '66 grand prix. Big American metal under the hood. Jury-rigged 8 track blasting the Doobie Brothers in, can you believe it, QUADRAPHONIC STEREO! Thanks for the memories, and Merry Christmas! steve

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  12. Sounds like you are from here. just a one horse town and someone stole the horse. We had our first red light put up a few years back and folks brouhjt their lawn chairs down to watch it change colors, really. The sound and rythem of your words makes ma a little jealous.As you ride remember that you are riding for some of us that are standing still fo the moment so that others may have a safe haven to come to.
    Merry Cristmas and stay safe.
    mwp

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  13. Dear Bridget, for this entire year, reading your blog has always been a highlight of my day. Thank you for sharing the moments of your life, your experience, your thoughts, touching even those of us who come from different places, who might have a bit different beliefs - you make people listen and you make people think. Thank you so much for the wonderful writing, your generous spirit and your kind heart. (And for inspiring me to buy a decent shooting glasses.) I just wanted to wish you merry Christmas - or at least a few moments with cookies by the fire - and all the love, health and happiness in the New Year.

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  14. B…in our youth we wish for many things as we dream of lofty goals and a sunny future. Time tarnishes the sunny glint while the lofty peaks inexorably soften and erode. One becomes less of a dreamer, more of a realist but if they are truly blessed, retains their compassion and ability to care. Wishes are now cautious as they all too often come to pass in ways never envisioned or desirable after times passage. Blessings, worries, pain and suffering are the coin we trade for life’s passage. Our rewards, are the lives we touch, or touch us in return, it is a fair exchange.

    Stay safe and warm as you travel, enjoy your Christmas, and may you always be blessed…and as a practical matter perhaps its time to procure an IPod or MP3 player for your truck ;-)>

    Joe

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  15. "My age doesn't matter with the steering wheel under my hand. I'm outside of time"

    Wonderful and true.

    We pray you have a very merry and safe Christmas, Brigid.

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  16. That sounds a lot like my teen years as well.

    Merry Xmas.

    WV = green

    Oh, oh!

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  17. Happy Christmas Brigit.
    Hopefully whatever has dragged you out will be interesting enough to make up for it.
    My fingers are crossed my batphone doesn't go off over the next few days as it'd mean there was a big problem for a good while to come for this society I live in. But then dealing with that sort of stuff is what I'm paid for and at least someone else has the on call batphone at the mo!
    Best wishes to you and Barkley.
    David

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  18. Christmas is just another day at the Torchwood Institute, eh?

    Alien invasion or universe-ending time paradox?

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  19. Hurry home (safely!), Brigid, and a very Merry Christmas to you and Sir Barkley!

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  20. Merry Christmas Brigid. Stay safe and I hope you miss the mess we currently have in the Midwest when you return.

    Your writing is so descriptive. Reading your words I feel as though I'm riding shotgun with you.

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  21. Merry CHristmas Brigid. Have a safe trip. No one bought cars for we kids either back in the middle 50's. We just went to the junk yard and swapped parts among the junkers till we got one to run. Then we took it out and tried our best to demolish it without killing ourselves. Ever go down the road at about 50mph and throw open the suicide door so a telephone pole would clean it right off the car? Oh what fun. Then we'd go backwards and take off the front ones! What a bunch of dumbs*&(s!!!

    wv: momags Wat I need lots more of!

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  22. Merry Christmas to you and Barkley, Stay safe. Peace be with you.
    YeOldFurt

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  23. Merry Christmas Brigid. Safe travels and bright blessings.

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  24. One of my favorite quotes is, "Wherever you go, wherever God takes you, fly high."

    It sounds like to me like you're doing exactly that.

    Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

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  25. Stay warm and safe wherever you might be, home will just feel that much better when you return to Barkley.

    Merry Christmas Lovely Lady B.

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  26. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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I started this blog for family that lives far away. Now that they are gone, it continues on to share those memories.

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