This song will become the anthem of your underground.
You’re two floors down getting high in the back room.”
Saves the Day wails in my ears as I sit jammed against the window of a crowded 22 bus headed north. I have barely started my commute home and it is already standing room only on this accordion-style tin can. As the emo revelry continues to play in my ears, I am unsuccessfully trying to assert some dominance over the 17.5 inches the Chicago Transit Authority has seen fit to give me in the way of “personal space.”
However, the man seated next to me continues to encroach on my invisible barrier of solitude, both with his manspreading and overstuffed backpack. I curse at him in my head and retreat closer to the window to avoid another hit from his solid, brick-like, apocalypse-ready commuter pack. I close my eyes and let the music truly flood my brain as I wish I could teleport myself to the passenger seat of your dark purple Dodge Stratus as we drive aimlessly through our small West Virginia town. Saves the Day shouting from the speakers as our arms move about the car wildly and we scream the lyrics at the top of our lungs.
The bus hits a pothole and I am once again smacked with the brick pack. I am jolted from my memories of your car and back to my reality:
That I’m 38-years-old disgruntled commuter making her way home on public transit during rush hour. That the dude next to me is a hot mess of unawareness and entitlement.
I push against the dingy blue canvas intruder and send it and its owner back over to their side of our imaginary property line.
I readjust myself and the belonging in my lap, as I try to put myself back in your Dodge Stratus.
But I can’t.
Because I no longer ride passenger next to my best friend inside his eggplant-colored Stratus, while performing synchronized, interpretive hand dances and driving frivolously through the winding roads of our modest town.
Then I remember there is a list of things that I don’t do anymore:
- Gone are the days when we would talk on the phone or IM for hour upon endless hour before one of us finally decided to pick the other up and drive aimlessly around town.
- Gone are the visits to divey truck stop diners for deep philosophical conversations over bottomless cups of coffee and plates of dry hash browns until 3:00 am.
- Gone are our 24-hour marathons of the same offbeat movie because both of us are too lazy to change the DVD as we lounge on the futons in your parents’ family room.
- And gone are the days when we would load up your car with water balloons and drive around town tossing them at street signs from the safety of our aubergine, mid-sized, metal accomplice – speeding away from the imaginary police we never found on old backroads and gravel driveways.
As I said, there are some things I don’t do anymore.
And not just because it could be said that I am TOO old to continue to take part in any of these activities, but also because I would be doing them without you.
For 12 years now I have been doing things without you.
I moved away from our small WV town without you.
I became an adult. Without you.
And I miss throwing those water balloons from your car and laughing about it in truck stop hash joints over stale coffee. I miss the feeling of dancing like nobody’s watching from your Dodge Stratus.
The car that seemed to encompass all of the dreams too big for our small rural town. Our purple home on wheels.
But that Stratus is gone too. I can’t sit in it anymore. Now I sit in the back of Chicago city buses trying to drown out the sound of those around me.
Listening to Saves the Day and recalling memories of our youth. Subconsciously knowing that there isn’t enough emo music and quirky movie marathons in the world to keep you more alive than dead.
Turning up the volume on my headphones, I once again move closer to the window and wipe a tear that has managed to escape from my eyes down to my cheek. Thankful that I have sunglasses to hide most of my tears as they begin to well up behind them.
I wish I had a water balloon to throw at this accountant moonlighting as a Sherpa
I wish that I was in West Virginia. Where I’d throw water balloons at your casket and scream Saves the Day into the cemetery’s ether.
Celebrating your life, yet still angry that you left me here alone.