One single car ride.
I don’t even remember where we were are going, my mother and I … just she and I alone in the car. I must have been ten years old, right on the cusp of Mommy Worship and Mommy Disdain. My young mother still in her late twenties – a beautiful, volatile, ball of energy and light. I catch a glimpse of her sideways as we rolled down the road. She smiles, turning the radio up.
Baker Street, her favorite song. We hand-crank the windows down – Gerry Rafferty’s tinny vocals blasting us like the wind. She sings:
Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well, another crazy day
You’ll drink the night away And forget about everything.
Filaments of her blonde hair whip about her face, and I feel a pain for loving her so much. She looks like an angel with a Dorothy Hamill haircut. I take a big breath to sing along with her, but the air is full from the smoke of burning leaves from someone’s yard, and I cough. We laugh.
You used to think that it was so easy
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re trying, you’re trying now.
She reaches over to the passenger seat and takes my hand, smiling. She is proud that I know the words to the chorus. I remember when I was very little and she would tell me it was me and her against the world. The world was antagonist; we were invincible. My hand didn’t swim in hers like back then, it fit perfectly.
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re crying, you’re crying now.
We did very bad air-saxaphone routines with our voices, just for the sake of being silly. All of the elements for a perfect mother-daughter moment, all serendipitous-like. She lets go of my hand to light a cigarette in the interlude.
Way down the street there’s a light in his place
He opens the door, he’s got that look on his face
And he asks you where you’ve been
You tell him who you’ve seen
And you talk about anything.
We sing at the top of our lungs, her words sometimes coming out in smoke as she exhales.
He’s got this dream about buying some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one-night stands
And then he’ll settle down In some quiet little town
And forget about everything.
At stop lights, people stare at us. We sing louder! We are beautiful, volatile balls of energy and light. Of course all the other drivers wish that they were as cool as we are, singing Baker Street. Mom flicks her cigarette butt out the window absently.
But you know he’ll always keep moving
You know he’s never gonna stop moving ‘
Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone…
A single car ride, burned into the filament of my spirit. I don’t even know where we were going, and it doesn’t matter. I feel the same pain from loving her so much, when I remember it. What I wouldn’t do do have the three or four minutes on a Fall afternoon in Houston, my hand in my mother’s – fitting just right. Before another crazy day.
To talk about anything.
To forget about everything.
Before the world was antagonist.
And when you wake up, it’s a new morning The sun is shining, it’s a new morning And you’re going, you’re going home.