#scintilla: little pieces

*This post is part of Scintilla, a fortnight of storytelling. I am a bit behind because of Spring Break. This recollection is in response to Friday's prompt: Talk about a time when you were driving and you sang in the car, all alone. Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?


July in Alabama is unbearably humid and hot. The phrase the dog days of summer was created by someone who must have experienced this heat first hand. It rises like a mirage and you swear you can actually see it hovering over the blacktop. No amount of iced-tea, cold beer, or air-conditioning makes you cooler but you try it anyway. For my friends in the late 90's the only cure was swimming in the river, the Gulf or someone's pool. 

I am driving a 1992 Toyota Corolla. It is a teal-ish blue and has a sunroof. The backseat is littered with magazines and beach towels; the floorboards are covered in sand. A cooler is in the truck full of ice, waiting for whatever we're drinking this week to be shoved into it. I have Saturday night off and am heading to the beach where my friend has a house for the summer. I am barefoot, and the sun is still out, warming my legs as I drive what has become a familiar route down Highway 98. It is crowded as I coast through Orange Beach and I curse myself for not stopping at the gas station in town for something cold to sustain me through the tourist-laden highway.

I definitely should have made a mix CD for the weekend. I search station after station for a song I like. Nothing. Commercials. That one song I hate. More commercials. Until finally, Johnny Reznick and the Goo Goo Dolls fill the air.

Could you whisper in my ear
The things you wanna feel
I'd give you anythin'
To feel it comin'

Do you wake up on your own
And wonder where you are?
You live with all your faults

I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything at all
So why don't you slide

I sing loudly, off key. I turn the radio up and let the music wash over me. I remember the first time I heard the song at a grocery story in Orlando and I think about the difference a year makes. I roll down the windows. The heat hits me like a wave but I can smell the salt water. I turn my face to the sun. This is summer in Alabama, glorious, hot summer and I have nothing to do for 24 hours. 

And I'll do anythin' you ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall

Traffic has eased up and there is finally the open road, the smell of salt air and the heaviness of summer. I drive toward the promises the night will bring and the tension and loneliness I'd been feeling earlier lifts.

Why don't you slide into my room
Just slide into my room
Oh, we'll run away, run away, run away