Last night, we loaded the kids in the car at dusk and headed to see how the house is coming. It's been a gorgeously mild summer in Oklahoma, and we had the windows down as we rolled down the highway. The music was on but the wind was loud, so my daughter asked us to turn it up. Naturally we obliged.
And I was reminded of what my cure for restlessness is.
We rolled down the highway, through the trees, windows down and radio up. I sang off key into the dusk, this playlist of 90s music that brought me to so many moments in life where just this thing was everything.
I'm prone to fits of restlessness. As a teenager, I
... I got a strong urge to fly, but I got nowhere to fly to ...That's the earworm on a loop when I'm feeling restless. And I feel the urge to get in the car and just go. Maybe it's because when I got my license, it was all about cruising. Lots of hairspray, lots of attitude, loud music down Main Street, driving the loop from Hwy 33 to Paradise Drive. Sometimes heading to the lake to cruise the bluffs in Port Washington.
Then, living in the dorms in DC, rolling through the city with my roomie, kicking it old school with 'do rags on our heads and the Beastie Boys on repeat. We would drive down Pennsylvania Avenue from the traffic circle over the Memorial Bridge. Holy shit, I can't believe I live here now.
After I was married, when we were so broke we had $10 for extras after paying the bills and buying groceries. We had no TV because it took a power surge and we couldn't afford a new one—which totally sucked because our apartment complex had free cable with HBO. Gas was cheap, so we would go for drives. We explored the suburbs, bringing along our mix tapes and cassette singles, heading over the Woodrow Wilson bridge and south on the GW Parkway, skirting the river all the way down to Mount Vernon.
Always, windows down, radio up. Hands out the window, flying through the air. We talked about big things, little things and sometimes nothing. These hours spent in the car were critical moments that bonded us for life. We still talk about that drive, how much we loved it. Maybe we'll go back on an anniversary trip one day, blasting our early 90s mix tapes when we're old and gray.
We moved to the suburbs 20 miles south that turned into a commute of an hour or more that we spent in the car each night after work. Heavy traffic meant we'd explore the back roads, sometimes adding double the miles to our commute but moving forward felt like making progress. Then it was Germany and we explored those back roads and Autobahns with our road maps and German-to-English dictionaries and the radio would interrupt the music with announcements like "Zwei kilometer stau" and we'd laugh at the road signs reading "Ausfahrt" and "Einfahrt" and we'd hope we never had to deal with an "Autokaput" which is just the funniest word ever.
Eventually, we didn't go for drives as often. We moved back to the states. We had babies. Life became more complicated.
The restlessness? Never went away. And last night, I remembered what was missing.
A ride in the car at dusk, windows down and radio up. Sounds about perfect to me.