This has happened before, I remember.
We sang our way along the pre-dawn length of Massachusetts, over the fog-draped Hudson river, through the rain battered New York thruway, then followed the curve of Lake Ontario from Niagara to Hamilton to Toronto.
Along the way, we made necessity into rituals, stopping at our favorite service areas with names only a mother could love: Blandford and Clarence. We ate breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal, then gassed up the car and let more miles glide out behind us.
How many times have we made this trip before, and how many more times?
I’ve been in this hotel room before, too, or one just like it. And here, at the keyboard, I know I have something to tell you, but the breadth and depth of the day has wrecked me a bit. I’m weary. My eyes are closing, my fingers light on the keys, my thoughts winging back to long ago car trips, us kids in the back seat.
It’s night and I see the angled reflection of the dashboard and my mother’s profile in her window. I’m looking past the actual mother to the window mother and I can watch her for hours as the miles tick along. She doesn’t notice my gaze. It’s dark and the world is a rolling feeling and nothing bad is happening. I notice that the moon is following me. No matter where we go, which turns we take, the moon stays with me, my own puppy dog.
I’m forty years from that memory, and I can’t recall my mother’s face as clearly as I can recall her reflection and the moon’s silent affection. I’m losing her voice, but I have her profile in my heart. I’m in a hotel room in the country where she was born. I’m looking at her brother’s face, and I see hers. I’m close to remembering something, but my eyes are closing. I’m thinking of a song.
This has happened before. This is happening now. This will happen again.
Here’s a scene
You’re in the back seat laying down
The windows wrap around
To sound of the travel and the engine
All you hear is time stand still in travel
And feel such peace and absolute
The stillness still that doesn’t end
But slowly drifts into sleep
The stars are the greatest thing you’ve ever seen
And they’re there for you
For you alone you are the everything