Ok, here goes. I posted a list of ideas earlier, but I’m itching to write, so this is my song assignment. Comments appreciated.
It was cold. Skin-tingling, bone-chilling cold. I gripped the narrow steering wheel in my padded nylon gloves and peered through the windshield into the blackness as the wipers swiped hypnotically but ineffectually. The thermostat had gone out of my old Dodge Dart about a week prior, and that meant that the only heat I had was my own body heat that I could keep contained. So far the white hockey socks inside my black fleece-lined boots were keeping my feet comfortable. But my blue quilted down jacket was a tad short in the back, allowing the chill to creep up my spine and set my body quivering. I reached up and pulled my red wool scarf a little higher so it brushed the bottom of my chin. Then I adjusted my fuzzy earmuffs, the same color as my scarf, and pulled my knit cap higher on my forehead so it wouldn’t fall below my eyebrows and obstruct my vision further. The temperature was plummeting and ice was a serious concern in this rain. I needed to be fully alert and as comfortable as possible for my four-hour drive home.
I had made this drive many times, the drive through rural Virginia countryside from home to college. After graduation in May, I had found an apartment and two part-time jobs. Now it was a dark and rainy December 23, and I was on my way home for a brief but precious family holiday gathering. I had memorized which radio stations I liked, where on the route they came in and where they faded out. Between the lite rock-pop tunes, Christmas songs filled the space and I sang out loud in harmony with them.
I gripped the steering wheel, driving cautiously and following the white line on the side of the road. My hands started to cramp in the gloves from the cold and the tension. I was feeling the stirrings of a headache from straining to see into the rain. Eddie Rabbitt’s “Driving My Life Away” crackled out of the FM radio. I turned up the volume and smiled. Eddie crooned, “Well the midnight headlight find you on a rainy night…” and I thought about all the road trips back and forth that I had made down this same stretch of highway during my four years in college and now beyond. I felt myself beginning to relax and warm as I sang along. My windshield wipers were certainly “slapping out a tempo” as the tension left my hands while I tapped my own beat on the steering wheel. For 3 minutes and 16 seconds, I forgot about the cold and the dangerous road conditions. It was just me and the road and the car and the rain, heading home for the holidays to spend precious time with my family.
I heard that song on an oldies station a few days ago. It made me smile, remembering a rainy December night many years ago.