It’s close to 90 degrees. All kinds of hot and muggy. It’s my kind of weather. I roll the window down in the Suzuki and I rip down the valley road with the music loud. I play New Order, some greatest hits I bought off Amazon. I don’t have time for deep album cuts anymore; I need the damn hits. I skip to Track 5, Blue Monday, and the cold English machine-gun drum machine shoots thrill bullets into my fat face.
I’m on my way to the county courthouse to get the paperwork I need to file for divorce. I’m not supposed to feel good about that, I know, but I feel good anyway. I feel wide-awake and unstoppable.
I feel f*cking alive.
Maybe that’s weird. It is what it is.
67 mph wind is blowing all through the car, lifting all the crumpled-up McDonald’s receipts and straw wrappers and pieces of dead grass up off my scuzzy mats and making them dance. I'm smoking a cigarette and ashing it out the window. Most of it flies out into the endless cornfields I’m whipping by, but in the back of my mind I know damn well that lot of it is probably turning around and jamming itself right back into the car, too. I don’t give a damn/ashes to ashes and all that.
I'm giddy: driving fast all by myself, thumping ashes, moving towards some distant horizon in my personal life, some horizon I never imagined I’d ever see. I’m seeing it now, though, loud and clear.
What does a person think about on the way to get divorce papers? I mean, what are you supposed to be thinking about? That’s meta, but it’s true. I’m wondering if I should be crying. The sadness is still all up in my bones. I’ve been mourning the death of my marriage for months now, trying hard to pretend that it wasn’t happening or that if it was actually happening then it wasn’t a bad thing. That it was meant to be and all of that happy horsesh*t, but at this point I’m not feeling any of that stuff anymore.
I just want to drive, man. I just want to aim this car of mine at the deep blue afternoon sky and drive a hole right through it. I feel like I’m in a movie. More and more, I find myself moving through the random scenes of my day as if I'm starring in this Sundance Film Festival version of my own existence. With each passing day, I've begun to pretend that I’m a movie star playing me. Maybe I’m mental. Maybe I’m just awesome.
In another 20 minutes or so I’ll get the paperwork on the other side of the mountains. What will happen is this: I'll drive down into the county seat/park/pop two quarters into the meter on the curb/move beneath the big Greek columns of law and justice/waltz through the metal detector/find the office that you find when you're seeking the needle to euthanize sick love/get ‘em/turn around/and go. Nothing will be written in stone today. But hey, things are in motion and I’m in motion, too.
On the way back to my house I wait until I’m way out of town to hit the music again. I wait until I roll the car up to the bottom of the Madisonburg Mountain, until I feel that ancient cool of the Appalachians move across my arm dangling out the window, the long miles of old forest closing in around another cigarette wedged between my fingers.
And then I hit Track One.
That’s the name of the tune.
It’s my jam. It’s so perfect. And I’d be lying out my ass if I didn’t say I planned it this way. I knew what I was going go to play, people, and I knew exactly where I wanted to be in the world on this certain afternoon when I finally hit the button and let it roll out of my tiny speakers, covering me like beautiful smoke.