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Driving Around With The Windows Rolled Down: Three Songs and a Coda

1. Sara
I'd just been visiting family when I got a text from my friend Sara. "Do u have time for a visit?" There were tree frogs singing in my parents' yard as I hopped into my car to head over to Sara's house. The Sound of Summer, like the summers we used to spend in cut-off denim and cotton tank tops, driving along cornfields with the windows rolled down, listening to Patsy Cline, dangling forbidden cigarettes out the window.

She was putting her kids to bed when I arrived; she offered me watermelon and sunflower seeds and a beer she'd been chilling in the freezer. We sat at the kitchen table and talked about things, about writing and relationships, about our parents getting older, about the fear of death. We apologized for not having anything new to report from our lives in the last week, and then laughed and realized that not having anything new to report was what let us talk about the bigger things. 

When I was tired and ready to drive home, I got in the car and flipped to a random radio station ("FLY 92.9: we'll play ANYTHING") and just past the bend near Shady Nook, Fleetwood Mac's "Sara" came on. You're the poet in my heart. I started singing and at the same time I started getting weepy thinking about how good it is to have Saras. Or Sarahs. They often go by other names entirely, too; but I'm glad I've got poets like them in my heart.

(And then I told myself, shut up, you sound like a frickin' yoghurt commercial.)

2. Gold Soundz (August, 1995)
pulled up to K Food Stores and looked at Teen mags as Karen chatted up the tattooed shaggy black-haired cashier. Brandon hobbled around on a sore knee looking at the lunch meats and Poppie guzzled a Mountain Dew. Karen left a flyer for the Muzzies show with the guy at the counter, Brandon bought Doritos, and we sat outside in the lot as they finished their cigarettes.

I sat on top of the Razmobile with my legs dangling through the sun roof as the cops pulled over a speeding 15 year old. We decided to get home.

drove home with the windows down and Pavement on the stereo. the moment we had walked out of Canal St. Tavern, we all saw a shooting star.

3. Gold Soundz (May, 2012)
It's horribly unenvironmental of me to love driving my car, but I do. Fortunately for the planet, working from home, we don't actually drive that much, and it's never just for the sake of going for a drive. But when I do... I love singing in my car, I love driving with the windows rolled down*, even on highways, I love the moment at the stop light when my Gerry Rafferty blends seamlessly with the Young Jeezy coming from the car next to me.**

Like Maria Wyeth, without all the breakdowns.

I do yoga in an old church. When I say "I do yoga" I mean once every few months I decide my body needs a stretch and I go to the most passive yoga class possible. I'm not very good at (as evidenced by the instructor's need to whisper-shout "RELAX" when he does his adjustments), and yet I still come out of it feeling warm and relaxed and open to the world. No longer averse to feeling like a total hippie. Last night, as I left the old church feeling like a total hippie, I rolled down the windows, watching the sun setting over manicured lawns, and "Gold Soundz" came on the stereo (stereo-oh). I pulled up to a stop light, and damned if my music didn't blend just right with the guy who had his windows rolled down next to me.

Bikers have this thing they do when they pass each other on the road, a gesture of solidarity where they stick out their arm closest to the other rider at a 45-degree angle from their body, like a contactless high five. J and I call it the biker low five; we see it a lot on warm days. 

Yesterday, when the music was right and the grass was green and the breeze was perfect and I was there in my car feeling like a total hippie, I wanted to biker low five the whole world. 

**I know, I know: noise pollution. My grandpa already scolded me on Facebook for my contribution to it when I first mentioned this on Twitter. But the volume only goes up when it's really good. Though I realize this probably makes me just as reprehensible as the thirty-something dude I rolled my eyes at the other day for pumping his gas while blasting Phoenix.

Coda: Sabotage
This post was (mostly carelessly) written and headed for (probably still unadvisable) publication when I read the sad news of Adam Yauch's passing. And I couldn't leave it like it was, not without mentioning the man who helped bring us "Sabotage," which, in the 90s, was the unofficial anthem of driving around with the windows rolled down, feeling like a bad ass in your '86 Scirocco.

Damn, this one just sucks. As Alex Navarro said on Twitter: "I don't know if I want to live in a world where a Beastie Boy can die." Or as they say in yoga: नमस्ते, MCA.

© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.

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