“Are we nearly there yet?”
How many times as kids did we ask this question of our parents during inexcusably long car journeys?
When it came time for my own children to ask me the very same, my answer was no different to the one given me by my parents:
“Almost there, not far now!”
I think of long car journeys often. As with many of you, I’ve taken a few and not just as a child. One or two have defined me, who I was and who I am today, the memories of which burn from a lamp that has never gone out.
As I keep on keeping on writing my memoir, these defining moments leap up at me from the ‘paper’.
As the flow of the story pours forth, moving images play out before me. It is as if I’m narrating, through the written word, while watching a film. The colour of the stills are somewhat muted, as with the slight yellowing of the pages of a well-read book, yet, with every word I write, a sort of restoration work takes place: the film becomes as vivid and as vital as if I am watching it for the very first time.
August 1979. I am nineteen and crammed in the back of a dark blue Plymouth Roadrunner sitting next to my American G. I. boyfriend. Other friends are squeezed either side of us and another drives us deeper into the wilderness, his long, black hair dancing in the wind through his open window. His pride and joy doesn’t have air conditioning, but he does have a mean 8-track. Los Angeles is far behind us, having left it at the crack of dawn. Now, as dawn breaks into day, the repressive heat stirs up the wind as it whips my hair across my face and it stings. The deep rumble of the V8 engine merges with Eddie Van Halen’s guitar riffs exploding from the 8-track’s speakers as we gun it across the Mojave Desert. Only we exist: us and the open road, slashed like a knife-cut through the vastness of a lonely, heat-crazed terrain. In the back, we grab chilled beer bottles out of an ice-chest, crack them open and drink. We sing stupidly at the top of our lungs and collapse in heaps of laughter. Las Vegas beckons and it won’t be long before I’ll be shaking hands with the fiercest heat I’ve ever known. I couldn’t possibly have known it then that I would return to Las Vegas one year later under dire circumstances. All I did know, for this English girl and her first time in America, was what it felt like to be truly alive. I had escaped for the briefest of moments. We were young, we were crazy and we were as free as we would ever be again.
Last week, Eldest son, Aspie D and I watched the most amazing lightning as it flashed across the heavy Somerset skies. Thunder rolled and heavy rain lashed down, a welcome relief to the stifling humidity of a British summer. Never was the rain more welcome; I relish spontaneous moments like that.
Sometimes though, we want to leave the rain behind for the smile of the sun on our weary faces.
I’m not heading to the desert any time soon, by car or by horse, and I certainly don’t plan on roping any rattlesnakes (but Charli, if I do, I’ll be sure to put it on YouTube), but I am setting out.
Sometimes we need to catch our breath and feel the wind in our hair and just let go. This will be my last blog post for a couple of weeks but I’ll be hanging around for the next day or so checking in with you as much as time allows and as best I can.
I’ll be unplugged for one whole week and I’m not sure how I’ll cope…I’m already having withdrawal just thinking about it. Cold sweats and everything…
I’ll miss you all very much, so please just make sure you’ll still be here when I get back! Meanwhile, I would like to leave you with a memory of a certain desert, a piece of ‘America’ and a piece of my heart:
Wishing you all a great summer (and a not too cold winter to my friends on the other side of the world) wherever you go and whatever you do.
See you soon !
~ Love Sherri x ~