Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sunday Drive


The sun dances off the windshield of a 1977 Dodge station wagon, pallets of greens and gold’s pass us on highway 101 going north up to San Francisco. Dad drives sitting be speckled with his Woody Allen like glasses. Mom sits up with him dressed in white pants, white shirt and white gardening hat. The breeze sends moms perfume into the back of the station wagon giving off a rose smell, a safe smell. Mom and Dad bicker about the air conditioning. Dad wants to shut it off “It wastes gas”. He explains. Mom cries out. “God, really I’m melting. The kids are melting.”

My sister who is six works on a book of mad libs she blows her long brown hair away from her face every now and then. The car windows are all rolled down creating a vortex of wind blowing around us from time to time. The hot wind rapping its arms around my neck and tempting me to go out and run in the fields beside the car. I daydream and I watch the scenery move by . A long silver gas truck passes by suddenly obstructing my view.

Mom turns on the radio. Elton John’s “Daniel” competes with the sound of rushing air and the passing of trucks. I catch my reflection in the window and pretend that I can fly.
I race next to the car the hot wind blowing through my hair. I look at the passengers in the car and see my self and my family. I swoop down beside my dad. He smiles telling mother that he loves her. She grins and rests her head on his strong shoulder. I rise up above the car and swoop down next to my sister. She does her mad libs getting lost in her world. I wave to myself and feel happy.

Dad sees a Denny's restaurant coming up in the distance on the right. “Whata say we all grab some food?” My sister calls out. “I’m not hungry.” She doesn’t take her eyes off of her book. “Sounds great dad.” I chime in. “Oh Deb you need to eat somthin.” “No I don’t.” For a nine year old my sister had all the quick comebacks. I on the other hand was a shy twelve. We pull up to the restaurant and park. My stomach was growling. Mom opened up the door for us to get out. The air was hot and dry. Dad came up behind me as we walked to the restaurant and told me to walk straight. “Don’t slouch walk with you head high.” “I am.” I run off ahead of him.

We all go into the restaurant and are seated in an orange vinyl booth. Barry Manilows ‘Mandy’ plays overhead. “I gotta use the bathroom.” I call out. “Me to.” My dad says and we go off to the bathroom. Mom tries to get Deb to look at a menu but she won’t. “You have to eat something.” “I don’t want to.” Deb wines.

After dad and I finish in the bathroom he asks me to come outside for a sec. We walk around to the back of the restaurant. We overlook a ridge of mountains in the distance. A man tightens down tie lines to a small aluminum boat on the roof of his car.

“You’re getting older now.” He states. “Yep.” I say kicking a rock on the ground. “I’m not going to be around as much, you know that?” “Yeah I know.” Kicking the rock off the ridge. “When will I see you.” I ask looking at the ground. “Well every other weekend is ours.” We walk over closer to the ridge. “Why do you have to go?” I ask. “Well sometimes Mommies and Daddies can’t live together, I’m still your father that’s not changing. And I’ll be a phone call away. “ “Well I don’t like it.” I exclaim. Dad laughs and rubs my head messing my hair up. “ I hate it to partner. Listen your going to be the man around the house.” “Do you still love mom?” “I’ll always love your mom.” I didn’t understand why he had to leave but to hear he still loved mom somehow made something inside my stomach feel better. Dad picked me up and turned me upside down. I laughed looking off at that ridge all eschewed. We walked back toward the restaurant to have something to eat.

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