This morning I found myself in the back of a Suburban with old friends I hadn’t seen in years. No, wait, decades. (Dang, math sucks.) I’m not sure what we were doing, or where we were going. But it didn’t seem to matter. The atmosphere in that monstrosity of a vehicle was light, energetic and full of life. My friend had the keys to his parents’ car and that meant we could do pretty much anything that we wanted.
Do you remember the freedom and exhilaration you felt the first time your mom and dad passed you the keys to the family car? I do, and it was glorious. All the begging, pleading and promises of keeping the speedometer at bay had culminated to that moment. The jagged teeth were like silk in my hand as I curled my fingers around their independence. I strutted out the door, my favorite cassette dancing in my fingertips, and jumped purposefully into the driver’s seat. The leather seemed suppler to the touch, the air lighter, and the Double D (That’s what we called our station-wagon. It was a beast.) grander as I pushed the key into the ignition. This is what independence, real independence, felt like. It was a moment that changed me for the better.
I am glad to say that throughout those years of borrowing the family car or sliding in with my friends as they drove theirs, I never lost that feeling of excitement and freedom. What was interesting, though, was how each night seemed to take on a different feel depending upon who was driving. The music, the driver and even the car set the tone for the afternoon or evening to come.
Black Dog, by Led Zeppelin was the tune that brought me back to my friend’s Suburban. Led Zepplin was the only music his cassette player could or would play. The music, like the Suburban he drove, was part of his identity. It was just who he was.
As for me, it didn’t matter as much what I was driving as long as the music and spirits were high. It was never as much about the destination as it was about the ride.
Black Dog youtube link