I forget what our errand is. I remember choosing an unnecessarily far destination, planning to lose myself on the curves of the “back roads.” Maggie grins, probably in realization that I’m no longer a stubborn four-year-old pulling her into the ocean, probably because now I can go into the ocean on my own, probably because although I no longer need a nanny, I refuse to let Maggie go. Probably because of little spurts of adventure, moments like this, when she’s called to action for a spontaneous event.
Like I said, the hypnosis of driving is not unique. But this isn’t numbness nor is it mindlessness. It’s not a rush or an escape. I’ve come to find something, not lose myself. I’ve come for the sporadic images that appear in arbitrary patterns like the spotty shadows of trees along the road on a July evening.
Ainternal clock tells me it must be getting late, about the time when I usually head in from the patio, put my book down and roll up my towel, when suddenly it drops ten degrees and it’s time to go inside. We’ll have fish for dinner. And fish cooks quickly so I’m not worried about time, but I’m adrift without any realization of location, wandering because I don’t have a place to find. I apologize to Maggie, still not admitting that I have no idea where we really are. I’ll slip back onto 27 at some point, merging with reality.
We’ll stop at the Clamman because I’m feeling nostalgic and want to watch the lobsters live in slow motion while Maggie watches me from the car, while my scallops are weighed and my tuna is cut, while I decide that maybe some shrimp cocktail would be good too, if not for tonight then for tomorrow. From there I’ll be home in minutes. I’ll stumble out of the car craving a pen and some paper, but first I’ll have to liberate my three Jack Russell Terriers from the confines of our old house, let them run out with purpose, barking at each corner of our yard, then at each other, then at us.
On the other side of the wheel time moves rapidly. I won’t be able to record these memories fast enough. My hand will write at a lethargic pace while my thoughts race ahead, unbridled, through the maze of hedge-lined avenues. Like a dream I won’t remember the beginning or the order of my consciousness, just some details.
As Maggie and I grill the scallops I’ll remember her tan arm on the car window, the shoes she discarded as soon as I neglected mine, the maroon nail polish—the same she’s always worn. But what was that memory I had on Gin Lane? What was that flashback of mine, somewhere between The Green Thumb and Blockbuster where my brother and I would beg my Dad to take us weekly—“just three movies this time,” he would say as we made what seemed like the most important choices of our lives.
The trees’ shadows are gone. It’s dark. Dinner’s ready. I’ll eat it on the counter in the kitchen as I spin on a barstool. I’ll have to take to the back roads again to piece memory’s mystery together, find someone else to drive me through the Hamptons so I can hang my head out the window like a slobbery dog, anticipating a spurt of reminiscence. No, anticipation never works, I’ll realize, there’s no anticipating memory. I’ll just have to keep writing and rolling and let it come.
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