fall driving

Morning is beautiful when autumn begins to flirt with aging summer.

It’s more about the feel of the air than the look of your surroundings. It’s more about the hints than the actualities. When you touch the green leaves, you already know the flame and crackle to come. The sky is blue, but as pale as snow.

When you start to drive, the smell of pavement and gasoline reminds you of donuts and cheap coffee. The sun is almost too bright, and you lay your arm outside the window to test how sharp the air’s teeth can be, and high-five the occasional truck barreling down the other side of the road. Corn taller than your head rises out of either side of the streets, punctuated only by white farmhouses that are beautiful with a new front porch and a mowed lawn, and would be beautiful if they hadn’t seen paint in fifty years. From the side of the street, you pass telephone lines that remind you of when the world tried to change the planet, and wind turbines that remind you of how the planet changes the world right back.

You listen to songs through your car speakers and pretend it’s the radio —

Fleetwood Mac, the smell of an old cabinet and the taste of cheap wine —

Helios, subtle stars and feathers in a pale dawn —

Fleet Foxes, coarse like sea salt and soft like honey-colored fur —

Sigur Ros, splintered glass with all the colors trapped inside, like the broken heart of a prism —

Enya, long grass growing through the cracks of a forgotten church —

Debussy, shimmering and drowsy, a morning on the side of the river —

Keaton Henson, the smooth curves of a violin —

The music interprets your surroundings for you.  The rising sun is the loneliest thing you’ve ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about a morning like this, but if there were something grand happening, perhaps the morning itself would stop being so significant. Because you have to reach the place you’re driving to. The first few steps out of the car feel like getting out of bed into a bright planet that you had just dreamed of, and for the next few minutes, hours, your mind is far away from the drive and the season and the music because you’re focusing on school or work or wherever you’ve arrived.

But on the way home, the sun is setting on the other side, and once again it feels like a movie as you drive away from the shadows and head into the deep glow. It glistens on the dark windows in your house, almost like the lights are all on, and it’s almost like there’s someone waiting for you at home.


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