I spent six of my last 24 hours in a car between Des Moines and Kansas City. All set to blog about how fucking weird it is to go home as of late, I started drafting in my head.

And then I-35 was all but empty this morning. There were no soccer moms in oversized GMCs bearing down on my ass, no trucks throwing off my cruise control and Antonio’s impressive mileage. It was me and the road.

Me and the road and three hours of harmonizing with mixes and music that remind me of various people and places and times in ways that only my music can. Me and the road and three hours of waving wheat, giant pockets of black-eyed Susans, swaths of bright yellow crops waiting to be harvested. Me and the road and three hours of watching the sky change from mostly sunny to mostly cloudy. Then me and the road and black storm clouds.

I met clouds like this before. Angry and rolling, they burst above a 19-year-old version of myself, Iowa-bound, trying to visit my boyfriend for the weekend. As if their saturation wasn’t an indicator, I was horrified by the precipitation produced. Road visibility vanished and showers pounded deafeningly on Antonio’s roof to drown out any semblance of comfort my music could give.
In a panic and crumbling into a mess of sobs, I pulled onto the shoulder. I called my boyfriend; I called my mom. I unintelligibly told them what neither of them could help: it was raining. very. hard., I honest-to-God thought I was going to die and I was stuck outside…Decatur City. And fuck, I had to go to the bathroom. Without them — my brave and road-savvy mother or my recklessly bold boyfriend — I was left to my own devices: to dry my own tears, calm myself down and wait out the storm in “park.”

Today, lines and taillights were blotted out by the storm’s giant raindrops, their speed toward the wheat and the black-eyed Susans and the bright-yellow crops pummeling my car roof. Instead of searching for an exit or a shoulder, I found the spot out my side window where drivers can still see the road. Hydroplane: foot off the gas. Cruise control: save for later. Left to my own devices, I gripped the wheel and turned my volume up. I sang a little louder and moved my phone from my lap to my passenger seat. I waited out the storm in “drive”; going forward.

The rain slowed and there were patches of blue sky to the west.

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