“Your most memorable experience in the back of a car”
It was dark. I remember that.
I had such a hard time keeping my eyes open. The rumbling of the car was rocking me to sleep, the soft vibration of the wheels on the road were like a silent lullaby that only I could hear.
Dad was driving. I can’t remember where exactly we were going. It must have been a trip back from the cottage after Thanksgiving, and we had driven out late to avoid the long weekend traffic.
My parents were talking to each other. Single words that on their own might have fallen meaninglessly onto unhearing ears but, between them, they were charged with the meaning that comes from so many shared years.
“Dad seemed in good spirits,” Mom had said. What that really meant was that she was sorry for Grandad having been so abrasive towards Dad. They didn’t quite click, you see. Dad seemed to always find himself in direct opposition to all Grandad stood for. Not that I blame him, much. Grandad was a bit of a stick in the mud when it came to holding on to the ‘old ways’.
Dad nodded slowly in response. His quiet assent indicating acceptance and a resignation to the fact that he would have to go through it all again at Christmas.
We drove on. Inching through the cold night and longing for our beds. I snoozed for a while and sluggishly opened my eyes once more when we hit a bump in the road, my lullaby interrupted mid-verse.
Mom was softly running her thumb on the back of Dad’s neck. This was a new gesture to me. So intimate. I was accustomed to being able to decipher their interactions; the way they spoke, the way they moved around each other – like dancers responding to an innate sense of symmetry. They were never intimate before me, though. They always maintained a paper-thin distance between their touch – connected more by what they said.
That gesture, the thumb across the back of the neck, was reassuring. Their love, the way they knew each other, preceded me. I would never know the extent of it only because it was a connection that was older than what I knew.