My first car was filled with cassette tapes but always neared an empty tank. Those dandelion spring days approaching summer offered escape. The 1986 Ford Escort took me from suburb to suburb and adventured downtown with me. Bumper stickers spoke on my behalf but probably held the bumper on. I was years from having a reliable car: my glovebox fell off its hinge when opened. This was how my jaw reacted as I inched forward into my future.
My drives took me where the cul-de-sacs and video stores ended. Farmland began nearby in a holiday’s array of red and green tractors. Men in overalls and trucker hats waved like sunflowers and corn stalks in warm afternoon breezes. Still their addresses weren’t far from the mall and highway.
I worked to save $900 for this car that leaked and burned under the hood. It was the most expensive tape deck I ever owned. I’d buy a cassette just for one song. Others would unwind from A- to B-side. Tapes with only one song I wanted to hear held strong through the squelch of rewinds and playbacks.
One of these songs was “Kite” by Nick Heyward. I listened to it constantly. “Kite” is wondrous with reflective lyrics and dreamy strumming… a perfect accompaniment on open roads. Themes of moving forward and moving on caught my ear. High school was ending. I longed to sprint ahead, unprepared.
I didn’t know that college would present greater divides. I’d remain tethered to much of what I wanted to forget. I worked hard to stay afloat. Not letting anyone shoot me down was and is relevant.
I don’t drive much now. My tapes are in storage. In 1995 I’d park in the driveway and DJ for myself rather than go inside right away to listen. That car was a studio apartment filled with music, a basement library of records buzzing electric through a vintage turntable. No one could distract me when it came to my love of music. I’m still soaring.
(Song recommendation by k weber)