Every so often, Tony and I will drive all night. We’ll drop someone off at their house and keep going. We’ll be hanging out at a party, we’ll look at each other and get up and leave.
And then we’ll drive.
We go off armed only with the prodigious knowledge every country kid has of the back roads; we all know how to get from one end of the county to the other without our wheels ever touching pavement. This is before GPS, before any of us had ever heard the word “internet,” or could even imagine such a thing. There is a crumpled and tattered state map buried under layers of white fast food bags somewhere in the back seat, stains of ketchup and mud obscuring most of the destinations, but we never use it.
We just drive.
Our first stop is the only 24-hour store in town. A weary, frizzy-headed woman in a blue polyester smock rings us up as we load up on Mountain Dew, shitty bitter gas station coffee, chips, candy bars, cigarettes, anything we think will fuel us until dawn. We pay her in dollar bills and count out lots of change. She sighs in exasperation, but takes the pile of quarters and nickels anyway, noisily dropping each coin in its little plastic drawer as we walk out the door.
Tony always takes the wheel. I kick my shoes off, resting my bare feet against the dashboard or out the window, and we go until we feel like turning. Sometimes we’ll come to an intersection and he’ll look at me. I’ll say “How about left?” or if I say “Go straight,” he’ll always say “Remember, it’s always forward, never straight,” and then he’ll laugh at his own little joke. Continue reading