Once a week.. on Wednesday evening.. I grab my grocery list and head out into the dusk to do my weekly shopping. I am alone. Alone in the car. Alone with a radio. I turn on the local Top 40 station and turn it up.. loud. In my former life, when I was single, before I had a Stephen.. before I had twins.. I used to do this when I needed some alone time. Sometimes I drove in anger, peeling out in the Volvo after a fight with Mom. I drove in circles. I drove out to the country. I drove .. and I listened to music and I screamed and I cried.. it seemed to be the only place I could process the pain of my adolescence. I feel echos of those moments as I drive to Trader Joe's every Wednesday evening. The trip is never long enough.
In my former life, as I was speeding along the back roads of Guilford County I was listening to Rage, The Doors, 311.. the local alternative station.. even a little Marilyn Manson.. yes... Marilyn Manson (don't judge). These nights called for angry music. Music to scream too. Music that absolves you of hatred. Of the darkness that lives in your heart in that moment. I won't say that I don't still struggle with my temper ... but moments like these were confined to years 16-20. Now I drive to get groceries. To visit Ellen after the kids are all in bed.
In my former life, I would never have tuned into any radio station playing "popular" music. Working in the city, it seemed impossible to get away from songs like the one above. They were on peoples phones on the subway. Drifting out onto the sidewalk from little bodegas and H&M. I felt bombarded with popular culture. Now I feel starved for it. I never had to try to keep up with what was out there. Now listening to a pop station on the radio is the best I can do. Not because the town I live in is backward.. far from it. But because my life is so desperately different in every way. I crave pop and hip hop in a way I never have. I look forward to long drives at night with "Empire State of Mind" blasting away everything in my head. I drive down the road and I am tempted to keep going.. to just hit repeat and keep driving until I find my way back home. I let my mind wander to former days. Intoxicated by the nostalgia that warms my heart. I am alone and nostalgic for those moments when I was crammed into the train, watching the Brooklyn Bridge pass outside as we crossed the Manhattan. The moments late at night, leaning on Stephen's shoulder on our way home from a night out... watching that bridge pass outside the window.. burning the feeling into my heart.. realizing that our time was surely limited.. that one day these moments would be a memory... never taking it for granted.... reliving it all.. mile by mile.. behind the wheel of our little red car..