During the last school holiday we got to have an extra chick in the house, and now that Spring Break is upon us, my middle chick went south to return the visit. So that no one is over-burdened with driving too far for the frequent trips, we have developed a habit of meeting her friend’s family between our two cities, leaving an easy two-hour drive on each leg.
The drive down yesterday was a relaxed, conversation-filled, music-fueled, mandatory close quarters. Neither of us were distracted by things we had to do. No homework or housework, no television or internet, no texting except with her friend to see how close to our meeting point she was. She took charge of our traveling music from her iPod and we discussed books, authors, high school classes, hopes for college and beyond, her music groups du jour – anything that occurred to us, bouncing from one topic to another with abandon.
We arrived before the others, so she waited with growing impatience for her next stagecoach to arrive, too excited to eat until they got there. I am always amused to watch them interact; she and her friend are so alike that they fit together almost seamlessly. Soon we were transferring luggage from the back of my car to the front of theirs. With a kiss and a wave and a flip of hair, she was off on her much-anticipated adventure, and I was left standing in the fast food parking lot with my hand in the air, an empty, quiet car beside me.
I started the drive home feeling foot-loose and free, but the further north I got and the closer to home, the more I realized it was just too quiet. I had left the life of the party back there, in someone else’s car. I rustled my way to the bottom of the glove box and found some discs I hadn’t listened to in a while. With the music up loud to mask the vacant seat, I sang snatches of old lyrics along the way, heading north in the fading dusk, toward home.