Sometimes I drive to an empty parking lot, turn the car off, and sit for an hour or more because it’s easier for me to think under streetlamps next to a busy highway than in the dark and silence of my own home. Even though it’s always been just me in the apartment, it feels abandoned, like it should be and used to be the home of a dozen close friends who paint themselves bright colors on the weekends to better absorb whatever good times they find. It feels like they left just before I moved in and left behind the heavy air of the memories they never wanted to forget, and so it’s not my fault that I can’t relax; it’s just all that stale air not wanting me to sit down, that wants me to leave and do something, something thick and significant and most of all memorable, so that the memory I bring back can play with the others.
The air in my car is calm; it doesn’t say anything at all. And the cars passing each other somewhere over there keep me from worrying, maybe because I convince myself that their motion means something. I sit and close my eyes and breathe in the hiss of the highway, believing that all those rubber wheels are turning the world while I take some time off to wonder whether I still want to be part of the world tomorrow, keeping my knuckles white, holding on to nothing, hoping that I won’t fall off and twist and tumble through the black of space until I can’t hold my breath any longer.
I used to hate sitting in the car. Mom would turn off the engine and say she would be right back, in just a couple of minutes. Then I would sit there, with my seatbelt still on, feeling every degree of temperature change, wondering if ‘couple of minutes’ actually meant something else to adults, something I didn’t understand. And sometimes I would start to panic because if something happened to Mom, what would I do? And just when I would be ready to get out of the car and hitchhike to Texas, where Grandma was, Mom would come back and drive us home.
But sitting in the car is harder now, in a way. I don’t know why I keep coming to parking lots, what it is I’m waiting for, or whether it will ever show up. Maybe the solution is simple. Maybe I would feel better if I just drove the damn car instead of constantly looking for somewhere to park. Maybe all I should do is drive. Maybe I should be the one to keep the world turning while hundreds of other pathetic little me’s try and find a quiet place to feel lost.