08 October 2006

Life in the EZ-Pass Lane

I am developing an ever-deepening relationship with my Honda Civic Hybrid. As the weeks pass, we spend more and more time together. Some of my friends are starting to talk. It's pretty intense, this renewed closeness. We haven't spent this much time together in almost a year, when I used to drive down the Taconic every weekday morning. But then, we were always on the go, back and forth and up and down over the hills, to work and back, running errands, visiting family. Now it's different. Sometimes we just sit, quietly, and watch the sun rise over the blocked-off express lanes of Route 78. Other mornings we sing together while I sip my coffee, waiting my turn in the Turnpike traffic. Everything matters more these mornings, even our destination.

In the afternoons it's off to the library, or--on Thursdays--a trip to the Pineys, to a sweet little idyll where the students are fresh-faced and witty and speak a language I understand. Sometimes the afternoons fill me with dread, but once my car and I set off, it disappears and we're together again, just the two of us and occasionally the Indigo Girls or Rory Block.

And then there are the evening drives home. These are more carefree, with the windows rolled down and the songs pouring out onto the highway as I contemplate whether I will grade papers before my bath, or just dive headlong into my pillow for a few brief hours of unconsciousness before I rejoin my true blue companion. It is nights like this I understand what it is like to be a dog, with my head out the window in the night air, my ears flopping in the breeze, trying to stay awake and stay between the lines but at the same time giddy with a sense of refound freedom: tomorrow I can sleep in until 6.

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