You’re first driving South in order to end up West, the needle hits eighty, but you haven’t gotten your ticket yet. There are tumbleweeds rolling the landscape, no shade to ease the scorch of the sun, a canopy of dead bugs in your view, and the smell of the rainstorm coming through my open window at home.
I roll and turn and sway in my sheets, the music just a whisper, but the silence too loud with you gone. When I think I’ve finally found rest, your song on shuffle sings of the postergirl who leaves her windblown traveler, telling the truth of you meant for anyone but me. I shut my eyes to the times it rewinds, pulling the darkness over sharks and softballs, hockey sticks and roller coasters. In my sleepy state, I gather the dreams scattered like coins on the ground, drifting into the days when I’ll wait for you.
Through the familiar Midwestern roads you’ll still be bound to Chicago, but as day breaks you’ll roll the windows down and blow away. Once you’re in Denver, then Tombstone, and Cali you’ll feel it, breathe it, maybe get a new tattoo. I’ll hear later of sitting on the deck sipping drinks, I’ll see pictures of the ocean crashing the shore and your nephew in your lap. I’ll look at you the familiar way I do, seeing that you’ve shed your lost-love tan for a darker, California color, and feel the urge to leave like the postergirl in your song.
But I won’t go. What I told the gospel man on the corner today was true. It’s why you can’t stay out there and why the coins are never found. We can go back West in the winter, when it’s still a mystery to you what chasm is between us. Things will be new and we’ll surely be closer to the truth of it all.
Thank you for the smoothie before you left. Next week, while you’re gone I’ll drink strawberry-peach and sit in the park, writing a song about finding our patterns. I’ll lay down my past and with my fingertips open yours. And when you get back we’ll rock climb, and ski, singing songs that are ours.