Sunday, July 8, 2012

No Particular Place to Go

Ah--summertime, and the blogging thins out. 

The other evening I was driving through the beautiful warm night  in an effort to relax my dog, Max, who is intensely freaked by thunderstorms and firecrackers. I knew the Searsport Fourth of July fireworks (re-scheduled to the sixth, thanks to the fog) would begin any minute, so I drove us to Northport and back, slowly with "no particular place to go." 

The night air flew around the car and Max's ears flapped outside the window. I enjoyed the car's hum, so self-contained and private. What can be better than a warm night ride? Here is an excerpt on the topic:

"In the early days before my brother was born, when it was just me and no car air conditioning, my parents drove all night through the Southwest to escape the heat of the day. It was the beginning of the aerospace industry, and my father followed the jobs around the country with his GI Bill engineering degree—Long Beach, Norfolk, Maryland, and later, Cape Canaveral.
It would have been some kind of Chevrolet coupe we were in, second-hand.  That’s what he always drove, and I still associate the rounded lines and grinning grills of the early 1950s models with the possibilities of family.
 In the mornings, we pulled into a motel where I amused myself with books and dolls while they slept. My mother woke late morning and took me to the pool so my father, the driver, could get a few more hours’ sleep. After lunch in the car, he would tell jokes and sing loudly in what he called his “whiskey tenor.” “When the moon hits the eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” he sang, never finishing a whole song.
We drove through the afternoon and evening, the desert landscape rolling by. After a long sunset, the funnel of the headlights revealed just what was necessary to know of the road ahead. My parents talked through the night quietly or not at all, my four-year-old self witness to this dashboard light intimacy.
Eventually I climbed into the rounded window shelf above the back seat and hypnotized myself with the passing lights fading away into darkness as the radio played softly and my father sang along from time to time. Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Flatt and Scruggs, music that was always best with a bit of nighttime static behind it conveying great distances, distances traveled and those left to go.
I was too young to have understood the situations they were singing about in those songs, but the music told me everything  I needed to know. The “high lonesome sound” drifted around the car while the hot air poured through my father’s window, his elbow languishing on the door. The singer’s plaintive story-telling, the dobro’s call, the pedal steel guitar pulling long and low, the fiddle alternating between joy and sorrow—this was life, I came to imagine, or at least my father’s idea of life. My mother preferred show tunes with a happily ever after.
I couldn’t have explained it until much later, but it was through that car radio I first learned about loneliness and longing and loss, real or imagined. I heard how they wrapped around each other in harmony and traveled together with us through the hot night on invisible waves of air."
(Excerpt from "On On Our Own Road" in Hullabaloo on the Space Coast: A Memoir of Place, copyright Linda Buckmaster, 2012). 


  1. Ahhhh, thank you for this.
    First, you bring back memories of my dear dog, Aurelia -- aka Aurie, who was terrified of thunder. How beautifully you demonstrate your love for Max with this night ride away from what frightens him.
    Then, you take me on another night ride through the Southwest and the long, sometimes dark, hallways of memory. Underscoring this for me, was John Denver's "Late Night Radio" and memories of me singing along full out when no one was around ...
    Hmmm, think I'll sit for a while and write ...

    1. Thanks for your comments, Mary Lou. I have to confess that I'm afraid of thunderstorms, too, so the distraction is good.
      Happy writing.