Turn the key. Hear the rumble of the engine. Beep, beep, beep, beep, click. Roll the automatic windows down. Feel the warm breeze on my skin. Smell the wet grass and the still damp asphalt. It’s hot outside.
Sunglasses on. Mirrors checked. Emergency brake off. Time to go.
The A/C doesn’t work and neither does the radio, but I won’t be driving in silence. The sound of my van rumbling along the road is nearly deafening, and I talk to myself when I drive. Sometimes I can get the radio to play music off my iPhone, and then I love to sing along.
The road is stretched out in front of me. A long black strip touching the horizon, disappearing into the blue grey mountains in the distance. Yellow dashes break up the right and left lane, but as the only car for miles, they don’t really mean anything to me. On either side of my solitary highway is tall yellow grass, recently wet from a rain storm.
As I drive the mountains in the distance never seem to get any closer. I flex my legs and crick my neck, rolling my shoulders to keep my body from stiffening up into the shape of my car seat. I can feel my left arm burning in the sun.
I’m headed home. Or I’m headed to the place where my family lives. Technically I’m already home. My big grey van, Lyra, and I have been on many journeys together and with any luck we'll go on many more. Today we’re driving highway 50 West, from Utah to Reno Nevada. I was told it’s the loneliest road in America. After driving through this pastel landscape for the last 5 hours and seeing only 2 other cars, I have to say I agree.
I’ve had no one but the wind turbines to keep me company. Their large white fins spinning slowly in the wind. They look like lonely dancers. Someone told me once that they were designed after gray whale fins. To me they seem to float like whales, spinning as if through water, heavy and slow and beautiful. They are the only other thing moving out here.
I wave as I drive by.
The mountains ahead of me are finally getting closer. I can see the tops tipped with a light dusting of snow, the fine yellow grass getting shorter and thicker, and small hearty looking trees come into view.
I also see the storm.
Large grey-blue clouds make the mountains under them look puny by comparison. The temperature drops significantly and I reach back awkwardly behind me to try and grab a threadbare hoodie I know I have hanging somewhere. I roll my windows up.
The sky above me is still light blue, but just for a moment, then the dark grey clouds obscure the light and I push my sunglasses up to rest on the crown of my head to see the road. The angle increases and my engine revs. I see the first raindrops hit my windshield. Just a teaser for what comes next.
The mountain pass comes upon me startlingly fast. One minute I’m driving up a road past small rocks and trees, and the next these great doors of a valley close behind me and I’m in the mountains. It’s snowing lightly but with force into my windshield. The service on my phone drops off and I turn the heater on.
I smile as the mountains rise up around me. It’s warm and I’m safe in here. My little house on wheels getting me from one side of the country to the other. My bed is made, my book is waiting for me in its drawer, and there is food in my cupboard. The sounds of the windshield wipers beats a rhythm into the cab of the car.
I’m smiling as I drive through the snow. It’s just me against the world today.