Passenger

Night-driving, summertime, late ’70s, alone in the Buick LeSabre with my father. Rural two-lane blacktop and a broken yellow line stretching into the darkness ahead, consumed by the headlong momentum of the gargantuan car. Circle of light in front of us expanding and contracting in response to the click of the dimmer switch beneath my father’s shoe whenever an opposing glow appears upon the horizon. I can see the stars steady above us and the forest rushing by, coniferous peaks silhouetted jaggedly against the infinite dark. On the radio, which he has allowed me to tune to a rock station, there’s something playing that eludes the edges of my memory now (but that I still feel confident is Sniff n’ the Tears’ “Driver’s Seat” — except it’s probably not. The era is correct, but it feels too perfect, too neat). Whatever it is, it compliments the mood that floods my young mind with a sudden torrent of raw emotion that surges, breaks, and disperses into reverie. I’m floating in the passenger seat somewhere between coherence and dream, the moment extending like the highway, ahead and beyond the circle of light into time and space and the dark unknown. I don’t want the car to stop. I don’t want the journey to end. I want him to be there forever, power and strength through his hands guiding us forward together, but I know it’s just a moment, an intersection between childhood and adulthood, between reality and memory, between the living and the dead. And moments like this pass with cruel expedition — a flash of combined light, two speeding cars passing in the warm summer night, the road in their wake fading again into silence and darkness, awaiting its next traveler.

A black and white photograph of Frederick (Fred) Norman Drew posing next to his 1975 Buick LeSabre.


Comments

Passenger — 1 Comment

  1. “Drivers Seat” – great song. A perfect timeless tune to match the mood of a night drive.

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