I’m driving and the music is blasting.
There are certain bands, certain music that is meant to be listened to in a car, windows open, flying down the road.
I’m starting to come out of a depression that has lasted months. Driving is one of the things I do to fix things. When I don’t know what to do, when I don’t know how I feel or how to name the thing I’m feeling, I run.
I’m a runner from way back. There was never an actual event I could pinpoint and say “I’m running away because…” Mostly I was running in search of. In search of some way to handle feeling…anything. It’s what I do when I don’t know what to do. It’s what I did when I didn’t know what to do.
The first time I ran away from home I was 5 and didn’t make it past the kitchen. I was lured back by the promise of stuffed cabbage.
When I was 7 I made it to the corner, where I stood flummoxed. I had no plan that addressed going off the block.
By 9 I made it to Dunkin Donuts, a mile away, across a four lane highway
At 11 I’d traded room & board for a job on a ranch 100 miles upstate. I got caught 30 miles away on the ticket line at Grand Central Station.
When I was 15, I found a partner in crime. We’d made it 100 miles on our way to California before we got caught at Fort Dix, NJ and dragged home.
Shortly after that, just as people stopped coming after me when I ran away, I learned to drive. To drive fast. To drive fast, to drive all night, to crank the music, so loud it would blast the voices out of my head, take me to Empty, or Fill me Up — whatever was needed at the moment.
The drugs and the drink worked too.
Until they didn’t.
That instinct has never gone away; the urge to run, flee, get free, get far away from anything familiar or anyone who could possibly know me or love me, keep moving, you can’t hit a moving target. I’ve just learned to channel it a little better, recognize it when it calls.
Today I drive. I drive and listen to god. Or I drive and write, scribbling notes in a pad with my right hand while my left hand steers. And still, sometimes, I drive. fast. with the music cranked up, so loud it blasts the voices out of my head, taking me to Empty or Filling me Up. Whichever I need at the moment.
I’m listening to Eddie Money and rocketed back to an awkward adolescence on Long Island, desperate for a way out. I hear his saxophones and then it’s Eddie and Cruisers and there is a way out, I can still fade into the Dark Side if I drive fast enough, if the music is loud enough.