The afternoon sky seems to bleed forever as the highway traffic drives closer into its abyss. Cars race past me: 20 over the limit, determined to get to where they’re going. I take a sip of water, and I let my left hand slide down the steering wheel. Drinking more water seems like the right thing to do. I drink more water. Listen to more podcasts. I’m not really listening though. I switch between catastrophic daily news, philosophical food for thought and niche playlists made by my best friend from high school. Anything to keep me from forming a thought of my own.
Commuting in silence felt like a waste of time.
More accurately, spending time with myself felt like a waste of time.
I had been back and forth all summer.
Between my hometown and my college town.
Between the home I grew out of and the home I grew into.
On the road again before the end of the week.
Just me and my little red Nissan.
I was unreachable.
I was a nomad.
I used to be envious of the vagabond. Detached from Destination, they were free to roam. How liberating that must feel. But I don’t feel like that. I feel trapped. Trapped by repetitive days. Trapped by my own company.
I was never really good at spending time with myself.
My summer commute left me with no choice.
- Work Uniform
- Extra Gym Clothes
- Follow through on plans with college friend
- Grab groceries before I get to my place
Shit. I forgot my vitamins again.
I merge onto the M-14 highway. I run through lists in my head and forgive my forgetfulness. Co-Star told me to be kind to myself today. It’s good to believe in something. Even if it’s some shitty astrology app. I queue up Lorde’s “Mood Ring” just for the irony. I was desperately chasing after some kind of eudaimonic well being, hoping it would be the antidote to my chronic Pure Heroine phase.
Driving is one of those things I often crave when I need to think or be alone. When I need to escape reality. When I’m not focused on where I’m headed. But these days, I wish I could reach the Destination faster.
These days, this commute feels like a very painful purgatory between places of belonging. Between versions of myself.
The human condition frequently centers around being rather than becoming. A podcast I’ve grown to like speaks of this in the most metaphysical sense — in the way that nothing is static and everything is constantly changing at the most elemental level. But on those drives when the stereo can no longer pacify my demanding thoughts, I’m focused on everything I am not — everything I am not being and everything I am not becoming. I know that’s not fair to myself, and I resent my hostility. Soon enough, Interstate 275 blurs from my vision and the month’s repressed tears spill over.
Driving in a storm activates my fight or flight.
This time, though, I choose to fight.
I choose to soften my bitterness. Partly because it’s an exhausting emotion. Partly because I deserve better. I switch on my wipers, forging ahead. And when the rain subsides, I discover sparse roots of healing. The very crooked healing that makes you weary. Weary and impatient.
With every red light and detour, my impatience intensifies. But I can only think of moving forward.
I am becoming. My being is always becoming.
This is me believing in something more. I may not be There yet, but I’m on my way.
June, July and August slip away in monotonous movements. And maybe somewhere along the way, I made peace with this two-laned concrete journey of mine.
MiC Columnist Easheta Shah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org