autonomy

early on, billy joel streaming through our old honda odyssey.
my dad and I humming along on the way to kindergarten;
my mom wouldn’t let joel in the house — said he was overplayed.
the whole minute-long drive was summer, highland falls, and angry young man.

later, 99.5 was the order of the day
or 94.7 or 107.3, whichever one my sister felt like.
sitting in the backseat, all the controls were too far to reach.
a time pre-bluetooth and a world less designed for ourselves: the tone of the day set by a random radio dj’s particular whim.

then, fingers smudging the residual condensation on the windows, gazing at the endless greenery blending with suburban scenery,
in an ever-changing, ever-static landscape.
a dissociative state in which time and space faded behind notes and lyrics

eventually, your first clumsy drive,
clammy fingers gripping the steering wheel and jerking the gears; not quite sure how a steering wheel works.
right is right and left is left and simple as that? not quite, you learn.

that time before you knew what the anti-frost was,
frantically swiping at the moisture accumulating on the windshield
the whole forty-five minute drive home populated with a subtle panic; the hand smudges visible the next few weeks.

music floating through the car, your out-of tune voice its accompaniment, blinding sunlight pouring over the dashboard — almost burning your face, notes filling the empty space around you, for once not occupied by people, a singular time, one with no silent specter of authority.

the smooth operation of sliding into the car, pushing down on the brakes, the engine coming to life,
a syncrasy of countless drowsy morning drives and late night rushes
of hitting the brakes fast and adrenaline pumping to your heart
of long gazes at the road unfurling before you.
i still play billy joel sometimes.

Post written by AnneMarie Caballero

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