Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Covers: The Rum Diary

Book Covers: A Collection of Essays by George Orwell

Book Covers: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Book Covers: Slaughterhouse-Five

The Drive Home From Work

My reactions are delayed, dulled, like my brain and my hands are fighting parents passing messages through the children. I don’t mind it. What I’ve really been trying to do is regain control. While every thing else is a mess, at least I can not care about near misses on the shiny wet highway as I cruise along somewhere between sixty and one hundred miles per hour. That twang of instant sweat when one becomes intimate with danger is supposed to be a natural reaction.

I’m listening to music- well, listening isn’t the right word- it’s more like hearing the way you smell. The accompaniment is something I’m aware of, but only in an underneath-way, like an old lover rubbing your back while you tell a story you’ve both heard a million times. This song affects my mood as the sound-version of fresh baked cookies. The type of reaction I sometimes have to remind myself to acknowledge. So I bob my head and sing along. Some old song I never particularly liked or disliked, one of those songs I am simply aware of.

It’s dark and all you can see is bright light shining through colored plastic skins. The headlights coming at you white, the break-lights coming at you red as you breeze by. The occasional bone-head maneuver reminds me that there are people inside of the cars. Blurry people each with their unique back stories, stockpiling frustrations. Sometimes they make me livid, but not now. I could care less about these people. I let them stay nothing but sliding sets of red lights. I imagine I’m a space-custodian sent to do some important cleanup amongst the machines, the endless looping machines.

I’m not paying attention to the road like I should. It takes me too long to flip through the radio stations. Little insignificant details strike me as interesting. My shifter, which I thought was becoming worn out is actually just filthy, the ashtray is leaking black water, the dual cup holders are too close together to hold anything but straight, Tom Collins glasses, I have seven different thermoses on the passenger seat and floor, though I only remember having one. The backseat holds piles of sweatshirts that I never wore when I lived in California..

I know it’s dangerous only because of what I know can and does often happen on these slick endless bands of concrete. I know all about the twisted car-like or truck-like heaps and the greedy gasoline fires and the rip of the windshield and the blood and the guts and all of the horror that a moment’s carelessness can bring. I’ve seen the flipped vehicles and the dazed bloody passengers staring off as if seeing things through someone else’s eyes. Maybe there were others back in the wrecks some mash-up mock of what they were just a few moments earlier. It’s strange to think of dead people stuck within these chewed up steel-miracles as you pass them, perfectly safe within your car with your pre-set radio stations and ass-groove. These are things I never dwell on for long, not while I’m driving. It doesn’t interest me, counting the cars in a pile up or stopping to see if anyone’s dead.

When I’m in my car I don’t have to care about anything outside of wherever my mind wanders. I think some people find this mental-state while jogging, or sewing, or humming with crossed legs and o-forming fingers, or fucking. I find it while driving. Just as fast as the red lights ahead of me will allow. It gets harder for me everyday to not push that little needle as far as it can go, forcing my car to its limits like I was hiding inside of some unstoppable primeval beast. I’m not in any rush to get where I’m going. I just like passing the others. Something about making good time than them makes my head tingle a bit. I think bliss would be an endless road of yellow lights. At first you might think seeing green after green would fill you with joy, but the yellow holds something better. Being allowed to continue on when others must halt is fulfilling.

So I press down the go-button when the music hits its climax, for some reason believing my slow reactions will keep me safe, that is to say, it keeps me from over-reacting. I know I wont crash, I’m not saying I’m a great driver, I just know I wont crash. I can’t explain it, but I’ve always felt that way, even during near misses that would have likely torn my vision of the world to tattered scraps. It’s during those blown out slow-moments of surreal captured speed and violent proximity that I am most comfortable. It’s like I’m in the hands of some God, feeling no need for guilt or anxiety. There’s no point in being scared about things like that, there’s plenty to be scared of outside your car.