It’s not like I expected the journey to be perfectly smooth, as I gingerly opened your car door all those months ago. Or thought it would be short. Probably five years, I said. Hopefully not more.
We took to the road. It was eerie. Dark. Unknown. I felt like I was groping in a new existence.
But you seemed confident at the wheel and so, little by little, I relaxed, just a tiny bit, working up my confidence, too, in this journey.
We were headed somewhere. I would get to my destination, right?
The car often lurched, my stomach in knots, but then you'd right the vehicle, let the shaking subside so we could continue the ride. Sometimes I needed to jolt you awake so you could plan new routes when roadblocks were impenetrable; when inclines were insurmountable.
Detours appeared and we took unexpected twists, but as a whole, we were moving forward to that place called healing.
I could even detect a change in the air quality. It wasn’t quite as suffocating as the car made steady, but oh, so slow, headway, out of the muck, higher. Higher.
But then I was no longer sure. Too often we'd make a turn and the signposts looked so wrong, leading us only to dead ends. U-turns were not simple to make in these God-forsaken cul de sacs, so we'd sit there spinning the wheels, trying to get out of the quagmire.
Eventually we would begin to move again and backtrack onto the highway, but though it seemed we were moving along, it didn't take long to notice we kept seeing the same signs, going up the same streets, going the same route again and again. Traveling in circles.
It's no use, I whispered, frustrated and upset. We've been here before, and it's the road to nowhere.
No, it is the route to the destination, you gently said so many times, until it dawned on me, past the thick layer of denial, that maybe… maybe the journey I'm meant to take is not going to happen in this car.
Oh, but I liked your car. I loved the way you drove and how steady you were at the wheel. Your pace was familiar, the ambiance in your car right. I liked to travel with you. I couldn’t do this with anyone else!
But the route confused me. I wasn't sure we were headed anywhere. I fidgeted in my seat, played with my belt, and wondered if it was time to exit your car, to try to find a new way to my destination.
The air was uncomfortable as we negotiated this. Internally, I fretted, my brain and heart knocking against each other. Externally, we spoke about it in the stifling space between us.
And then the nausea from all the twists and turns, the confusion from never-ending winding roads leading to nowhere, enveloped my head in a cloud and I could no longer stay in the car.
Sure, you said. Indeed… perhaps It's time for us to part ways. Would you like to get off at the next exit?
I didn't know what I wanted; all I knew was that I was too carsick to continue.
Where do I go from here? I asked. How do I continue scaling this path?
You know where you want to get, you said, firmness and pride and some undetectable rhythm in your voice. You'll find your way there.
One minute I was sitting with you, and the next minute I gently closed the door behind me and watched you drive off, away, away, out of my life, never to be seen again. I craned my neck to follow your car but you didn't turn back even once.
In a cloud of dust, you ceased to be something concrete to me.
I looked around at the wasteland upon which I stood. I tried flagging down one car after the next. Would that train do? That bus? What’s my next leg of this journey to be?
I had thought I had options and I just needed to choose a mode of transportations when I eased out of that car.
No vacancies, the screens flashed. Drivers shook their heads from side to side, not even stopping as they passed me by. The only vehicles that did stop did not look safe to enter. Their drivers incompetent, or sleepy, or too chatty for my frazzled nerves.
All alone, the passing traffic turning a blur in front of me, a new thought took over my mind.
Do I even want to travel?
Put myself at the risk of a random driver?
Danger lurks in every car. Rejection in so many of them.
Maybe it’s time to stop looking.
Maybe my journey ends here.
Perhaps I should try to inhabit a piece of solid land right here.
But am I capable of that?