We are driving home from my best friend's house, listening to an audio book, chatting here and there. I'm trying to stay awake. Coffee still tastes bad, no matter that it's my favorite specialty coffee in all the world. Med adjustments are the pits. Then, our book ends. I'll play music on my iPhone.
What to play?
Haydn has his daddy's tastes, and there's no heavy metal on my phone. Oy. So I pick Aerosmith. It's rock, right? And I grew up on Aerosmith. Steven Tyler remains one of the sexiest men alive in my opinion. We can jam to Aerosmith for an hour and a half and then we will be home sweet home. Hopefully before the medicated nausea kicks in for the day and before the predicted thunder storms descend on Tupelo.
I still know all the words to each song that plays. I sing along. I tell Haydn how I used to listen to Aerosmith with my daddy.
I tap out a rhythm on the steering wheel.
I sing loud, voice cracking.
I wiggle in the driver's seat.
I glance across the car at my son.
He is 11.
Suddenly, I switch places with him.
I am 11.
Dad picks me up for our weekend; Carrie in the backseat and me riding shotgun in the black Camaro.
Or maybe the teal Grand Am.
Music fills the car.
Dad sings along,
tapping out a rhythm on his steering wheel.
When did this happen?
I am not the kid riding shotgun anymore.
I'm the parent dreaming dreams,
remembering when I lived these songs,
when each word felt so true to me.
I have my own man-child now, a boy so much like my father that I see my dad bursting from his seams.
And I miss my daddy, far away in Carolina.
And I miss 17, when there wasn't even breathing room
between pleasure and pain.
And I miss 13, watching Liv and Alicia
on Justin's big screen TV,
and I miss dancing in my underwear,
screaming WALK THIS WAY.
But here I am,
my eyes in the rear view mirror,
my kid in the passenger seat.
And, Steven, you were right.
The light at the end of the tunnel
might be me.