The car radio was tuned to a station playing Rock ‘n Roll ‘standards’, familiar tunes that had ‘made it’, that anybody, more or less, could sing along with. Nothing too hard, too edgy, too old or certainly not too new. Memories straining from the car’s two small speakers in the dash, pushed at her from the station in the city behind her that was slowly fading as she drove towards the last gold line on the darkening horizon. She drove with her windows half down to compensate the faulty air conditioner, five miles-an-hour below the speed limit to alleviate worry that the old engine might pop at any time. Music, memories, distorted by speakers turned up loud to compete with the road noise generated by the interstate she plodded through.
When the song came it took her a few seconds to recognize it through the din. As she began to understand what she was hearing, as the lyrics seduced her, the world changed. The gold on the horizon became brighter, broader, more luminance. The clatter of the highway faded, seemed to nearly mute and become inconsequential. She was no longer trudging along in an old clunker; she was gliding at high speed in luxury and class. She left behind her parents’ constant arguing and sniping at each other. Her dad’s constant coughing of the disease slowing killing him silenced. She no longer remembered the husband that had divorced her or the shitty job waiting for her or her money issues. The lyrics reminded her of him.
He was unrequited. Decades after they’d met, he’d never left her, but also never quite touched her. Amidst all her boyfriends, her marriage, her jobs, her angst, her awareness of him had always been less than what she now perceived he might have been. Actually, maybe, still was. Submerged in the music and the lyrics she felt an affection from him that had never been sustained from anyone else. Never an affection he’d pushed or pursued; never overt, as though he wanted her to perceive it for herself. She could recognize that now as she stretched towards a dark horizon in traffic, the radio station turning to static.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.