This is my only personal essay ever. A little angsty. Ends on an up note, though.
| “Can you pick me up for an hour?”|
“Where did you want to go?” I grumbled, not wanting to emerge from my turtle shell.
Boris sighed, “I dunno, somewhere, I just don’t want to hang around here.”
“Nah, I got shit to do.” I didn’t, but I really wasn’t interested in driving all that way just to go nowhere for a while.
“Alright then, I’ll call you later, or just come by.”
“Yeah.” I pressed the talk button on the green portable phone and tossed it onto the old chair across the room. I hated leaving the house with no intended direction. She had hated it too, but I tried to get her out as much as possible. I rolled over and reached for the remote off the floor next to the couch. I pressed the worn volume button until the television reached a loud murmur and then I drifted back to sleep.
I spent the winter of 2000 chauffeuring those who wanted to go “anywhere but home”, while I was so lost in myself that I thought I’d never come out. It surprises me even now how many kids wanted out of their homes, for an hour, for a night, for a week. Most of their homes had at least one caring parent, many of them had had two, and yet they were all vaguely dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with their meager lives, their own pointless existence, or the sheer depressing realization that this IS as good as it gets; I really don’t know. I never bothered to ask. There was always someone else needing out, someone else needing a little time off, someone else using me.
The doorbell rang, shaking me from my television-induced slumber. I grumbled to myself as I felt around for my glasses as the doorbell repeated its annoying beckon. I grumbled louder to let the nuisance at the door know that I had indeed risen. I stumbled to the doorway, glancing in the bathroom mirror as I passed. Faded blue jeans, no shirt, not even any socks, my hippie hair pointing this way and that. I hadn’t showered or shaved in days. God, I looked like shit and probably smelled just as bad. Oh well, fuck it. I drew open the door. Oh, it’s just Andy and he’s seen worse.
“Come in,” I said, leaving him in the doorway. I stumbled my way back to the warm couch. I flopped down face first into the pillow.
“Hey man, let’s go do something. I feel like ripping up the town tonight!”
I pulled my face out of the pillow and glanced over at him across the room. “You’re sitting on the phone.”
“Oh, sorry dude.” He didn’t even get up. “You wanna do something or not?”
“No, I think I’m gonna do some laundry.” Who was I kidding; I hadn’t done laundry since she left.
“I’ll let you borrow some clothes, let’s just do something.”
“Alright alright, gimme a minute.” I sunk my face back into the pillow. I really didn’t want to go anywhere; I’d been everywhere. And everything was only a sour shade of what it had been. Being underage, the only places we could go were to the twenty-four hour Wal-Marts and K-Marts. I felt so stupid hanging out in the electronics section of a department store at two in the morning.
“Stop moping and get up!” He hollered. God, Andy could get annoying and the only way to stop it was to give in to what he wanted.
Fifteen minutes later I was dressed and we were rolling down the highway once again, and again with no destination. How many time had I done this? How many times had I gone home alone afterwards? I might have helped my friends to their destinations, but mine still eluded me.
“Can you take me to see my new girlfriend?” he asked. Andy always was somebody’s new sex slave. It fucking pissed me off.
“Yeah yeah, lemme pick up Boris first, so I have someone to talk to,” I said. Andy nodded in agreement and turned up the radio to a deafening tone. He didn’t understand and probably never would. None of them did.
I’d wanted to go on a road trip ever since I was in the seventh grade. My dream had been to take a good friend, or her, and just follow the road to its end. I felt so depressed that I reduced myself into thinking I’d achieved that by catering to the driving needs of my younger cohorts. This was not how I had planned to spend my later teenage years.
“Hey! You showed up,” exclaimed Boris as he slammed the rear car door. I winced at the sound, and turned down the blaring radio.
“Yeah I’m here, where to now?”
Boris asked, “how about the mall?”
Andy turned around and said, “Shut up Boris, you’re a fucking idiot. I’ve gotta hook up with my new girl?”
“Another new girl?”
“Yep, she’s a gothic punk chic with blue hair and…” I drove off into the night as the two of them went on and on about this chic or that girl that neither of them could secure a solid relationship with. I don’t think I honestly heard a word that they said, but I nodded and said yeah enough times that I wasn’t apparently rude.
I had managed to make friends with the dorks from two different schools and both were more actively social than me, which I never understood. Neither of them would be able to accompany me on my dream of traveling, but as I turned twenty, I’d felt most of that slip away.
There had been others before that could have gone (and went), and I wanted to go, but they all seemed to fade into their own lives. There had been plans made and destinations set, but the people left and the plans fell through. People were always leaving. She wasn’t any different (I wouldn’t be either).
“It’s the next left, man.” Without even looking at the street, I turned onto it. Driving had become such a nuisance that some days, no, most days it didn’t seem worth the hassle. “Alright, stop here and cut the lights. I’ll be right back,” directed Andy.
“Have you seen this new girl of his,” asked Boris.
“No, I don’t know who she is.” I didn’t even know where I was. Somewhere between Hell and the hereafter, but Norway was so far away I figured it was closer to the latter. It didn’t really matter, next weekend I’d be doing the same drill with another person or worse, the same people.
Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Boris and Andy well enough, but they didn’t serve my needs. Each had plans for themselves that included me in their insignificant futures, but I wasn’t interested. I suppose that’s how all of the people who left me must have felt. How I had tagged along, dying to be part of his life or hers, but they had dreams and futures that didn’t consist of yours truly.
“I’m Veronica,” whispered the voice from outside my driver’s window.
I politely extended my hand. “Nice to meet you.” Not like I’d ever see her again, or even that it was nice to meet another one of Andy’s sexual domineers. “Climb on in.”
With his new punk girlfriend in the car, Andy had taken the back seat so that they could suck face, which moved Boris to the front. Once again, we ended up in the same predicament, a car full of teenagers in the middle of the night looking for somewhere to go.
Staring out into the night, I watched the signs that spoke of far off places slip away as I went on to the local haunts.
“Hey man, lets go to IHOP!” Boris was always hungry. Some day that boy was going to be fatter than hell.
“You got money?”
“Well, I was hoping you could add it to my tab.” God damn, see what I mean about taking advantage of me?
I grumbled a half intelligible reply.
“Oh, can me and Veronica stay in the car,” asked Andy, parting lips just long enough to pose the question.
“I don’t really fucking care.” It was true, I didn’t. Maybe it was my indecisiveness, maybe it was the depression, and maybe I was just a heartless bastard, but whatever the reason, I really didn’t care. They’d keep the car warm for when Boris and I got back. It was the middle of winter after all, and two in the morning.
I couldn’t blame Andy; I’d spent the previous summer wrapped up in the same pursuits. Still, I considered my pursuits pure and his hollow. I suppose I owed him something for deserting everyone for a girl. Not for any girl, but for her. (He’d tell me all about it soon enough anyway.)
“Thank you,” I said as the pretty brunette brought me my orange juice. I ordered a plate of food that I really wasn’t hungry for and would only end up picking at anyway, anything to kill the time that I was allowing Andy to spend with what’s-her-name. I hadn’t truly been hungry in months and ate solely out of habit.
“Hey man, are you coming to the dance?”
“Huh?” I said, dragging my eyes upward to remember whom I was sitting with.
Boris looked at me and saw nothing, but probably everything. “I asked if you were going to next month’s dance?” I shook my head no, (although I ended up going). “Why not?”
Did I have to explain everything? “Because. Now finish your damn food. I’m tired.”
Back at the car, the glass was fogged and Andy jerked suddenly as I tapped on the window.
“Open up fuckhead.”
“Just a couple more minutes,” he pleaded.
“No, it’s cold. Put it away.” I turned away as the back seat shuffled with activity. What drew women to this guy? He was tall, lanky and dopey, but apparently good in the sack. Others would talk behind his back about how sexy he’d be if he’d just shut up. I guess I shoulda said something, but he seemed to do well enough on his own. It’s not that I wanted the women or the sex he got, but she had thought he was cute too. I never understood it.
The familiar popping of a lock pulled me awake, and then into the car. I fired up the car defrost and turned down the radio to listen to the whir. Unfortunately, the defrost didn’t do much for the lingering sex musk.
“Veronica says she needs to be home before five,” Andy relayed.
“Fine, how do I get there.” And we were rolling again. The shadows and orange streetlights rolled through the car as I drove back past all the places I’d been by that night, though I barely noticed them this time either. Places that I’d been with her on other nights too.
Veronica was dropped off first, and Andy went with her, (he ended up getting caught with her and threatened with the law, again). I dropped off Boris next, (he was locked out on his front porch, where he was caught in the morning). That left me to drive home alone. Driving, forever driving.
Driving my friends around was never as bad as driving myself home. The radio was as sad and sullen as I was. In fact, even heavy metal sounded unhappy. Maybe that was the loneliest point of the whole driving experience. Thinking of the times I’d spent happy hours driving with her had reduced my private driving to a tearful event. How many times had I wished that she was in the passenger seat? Every time I took someone somewhere, I felt that I had a few more miles with her. The shades of night, the shadows of memories, the empty car; they all pressed down upon me. That was it though, wasn’t it? I was trying to make up for lost time. For everything that I did for everyone else, she was still anywhere but home.