I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m driving. I don’t know where I’m going. As I gently press the gas pedal, I don’t need to know any of those things– only that I am continuing forward. The volume of the radio is set at 26, shattering whatever silence is around me and probably my eardrums. (Usually, the radio’s volume is at 15 for reference.) I’ve never been particularly good with song lyrics, so I sound a bit schizophrenic shouting random words as the beat of miscellaneous pop songs echo throughout the car. Accelerating into the summer sunset washes a wave of serenity over me that I didn’t know existed until now. Tonight, I simply continue forward.
“Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran blasts through the radio as I shout the occasional lyric, then giggling to myself at my own absurdity. I wouldn’t say driving around sporadically right before sunset is a bad habit– perhaps for my gas bill. “And tonight had something wonderful”. Yes, everything is wonderful about tonight. Because tonight I have the freedom to be uncertain about where I am going unlike how I have felt all of college thus far. Tonight I have the freedom to simply go forward. A laugh escapes me in between Ed Sheeran’s catchy lyrics because driving used to induce a level of nervousness in me. I never really understood why people drive for enjoyment or to simply relax. My mind always zoomed into the possibility of accidents or catastrophic crashes. Perhaps that’s the professional overthinker in me speaking. But tonight, I feel a once looming cloud become cleared from inside my mind as I drive forward down the deserted dusty road. The apprehension I once felt for driving soon is replaced by a newfound thrill that soaks excitement into my system. Feeling the power of the car as I accelerate, I let a smile curve at the ends of my lips while the beat of the radio pulsates through the speakers. Tonight, I understand how people feel when they simply drive forward.
Sometimes it’s nice to not think and to simply go. All of my clouded thoughts seem to evaporate as if my mind is placed on auto-pilot. I turn right, then left, then left again. Left. Right. Left. Forward. Somehow, my tsunami of a million swirling thoughts transforms into calming waves of serenity that wash me back to shore. My mind and thoughts are like the weather. And, I am the meteorologist down below. The weather is always changing– sometimes it’s predictable but most times it’s completely capricious. Some thoughts are sunny with rays of happiness and radiant with confidence. Some thoughts are clouded with confusion as uncertainty rains down on me. Those clouded thoughts manifest into storms that rage with emotions, swirling out of control. As the meteorologist of my mind, I feel helpless only being able to forecast hurricanes of stress. Sometimes all I can say is: there is a chance of overthinking and violent winds that will blow any minute worry out of proportion. As the meteorologist of my mind, I feel everything down below. I feel the warmth of happiness like a blanket wrapped around my body, comforting me with soft fuzzies filling my heart. I feel the earthquake of my nervousness shake all of the stability and ground work I tried so hard to construct. I feel the rain rushing down from the cerulean sky, down to my bones, cultivating who I am. Tonight, I feel the sunset’s afterglow transforming my once clouded thoughts into a pastel painting displayed on the sky’s canvas.
As I drive through the rolling hills of southern Michigan, I look up. The sky seems endless, truly limitless. Clouds blend together crimson, lavender, periwinkle and sapphire like one of Monet’s impressionist masterpieces. Sunlight’s gold foil is delicately etched along the lining of the horizon. Verdant cornfields and rolling hills flicker with a myriad of greens and yellows, redefining the magnificence of golden hour. I now know why I drive: to watch the sunset captivate the sky and my mind. There is a special feeling you get from driving along the countryside’s vastness, observing the sky before it brings along the blanket of darkness we call night. I still don’t know where I am. Who knows where Buell road is? But I do know that sunsets are always beautiful over golden fields of hay. Sunsets are always beautiful when I am home here in Michigan. Smiling to myself, that’s two more things I know tonight.
Gradually pressing the brakes, I come to a stop, putting the car in park alongside the dirt road. Leaping out of my car, I breathlessly look out at fields speckled with wildflowers, trying to absorb every detail into my memory. I think I stand there in the middle of the field for 20 minutes, just repainting every cloud, every blossom on the canvas of my mind. Picking a daisy up, I slowly pluck off each petal. “Love me, love me not”, I whisper to myself. I love the sky. But I’ve learned that loving the sky means loving the rain, the storms, the sunlight, and the sunsets. I love how I can rely on the sky to always be beautiful no matter what is going up in its complex atmosphere. I admit that I’m in love with a lot of things. Tonight, I’m in love with cotton candy clouds that make me taste the sweetness of peace. Tonight, I’m in love with driving with no end destination as I continue forward. Forever, I’m in love with the meteorologist of my mind. That I know for certain.
A forecast from the past with a 99% chance of nostalgia:
[I wrote this paragraph on February 29, 2020]
I have always loved the sky. It was when I was in third grade on the swings on a spring day that the sky captivated my mind. Just looking up at the cerulean, cloudless sky, I thought: forget that the sky’s the limit. There is so much possibility, and I felt so insignificant in the face of such vastness, yet somehow significant at the same time. Looking up, I told myself I will be like the sky, limitless. When I see the sky, I hold on to its beauty and possibility. Because I know whenever I am sad or having a hard day, I just have to look up.
I still love the sky. And, now I can say that I love the meteorologist too.