We sit in his parked car.
Dimmed moonlight seeps in through the open windows, tattooing temporary tiny shadows onto the cloth seats and my freshly sun-kissed arms as I stare at the silhouettes of leaves resting quietly on massive, solid oak branches, gentle patterns pressed against the starlight sky.
Even with the windows down, the air is heavy; it’s been working diligently at drenching our naked skin with humidity, leaving tiny footprints of moisture along our brows, hair lines, napes of our necks for the past two hours.
We’ve barely gone beyond making little effort to engage in conversation; there’s no need for words anymore. We’ve run the entire soundtrack of each other’s self-proclaimed best album of all time in one summer, letting each layer, each chord, each harmony and each lyric soak press into our skins. And tonight we’re both hearing the words from a song we’ve listened to a thousand times before but never really heard.
“I’ll take your words as if you were talking to me.
So say what I know you’ll say.
Say it through your teeth.
Now in the deep and down, your heart moves.
I don’t know how, but I know I want out.
Wait for something better, will I know when it can be us?”
There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been hung out to dry with last week’s laundry. I know what he’s thinking; he’s got my number, too. My sentiments remain as heavy, stagnant as the humid August air. I desperately need a breeze to sweep me away, take my heart hostage and run until it can’t recognize a single scene in the landscape.
This drive on this night, it’s such a contrast from ones past. Night drives where the chill of May still clung in the early summer air, driving goosebumps over my arms just beneath my light sweater, brimmed with conversations that weaved through the time and space inside his old car until we could see small hints of sunlight creeping over the bluffs, peaking in between leaves dancing in a slight breeze.
“Hands around your waist.
Nameless, standing cold.
Take in restraint like a breath.
My lungs are so numb from holding back.”
Night drives where we’d stripped off our sweaters, kicked off our shoes, talking about sweeping philosophical generalizations that were actually little glimpses of self-confessed truths.
“I said it out loud over and over but what do I know.
I said it out loud but it did not help.
I’ll stop now.
Just so I can hear you I stay up as late as it takes, as long as it takes.”
Night drives where each truth that was unraveled undressed another layer we’d cloaked our outer selves in, dying to undress, shed a shirt, jeans in the thickening summer heat.
“When the time we have now ends,
When the big hand goes round again.
Can you still feel the butterflies?
Can you still hear the last goodnight?”
Night drives where we found ourselves tangled in each other’s discarded clothes, layers of history, clinging to each other’s underwear-clad bodies while hoping for this time to be different, praying for the current of love to swim against the undertow of reality.
“Feelings change so fast.
Safety scares them away.
I can’t bring myself to say it;
it’s my own advice I need.
Nowhere and then nowhere.
Living trapped inside the chase.”
Until we’re left here, on a night drive where we’ve found we’re left naked, stripped completely of all our layers, souls barred, secrets shared, staring at each other and wondering how the flesh looks so starkly different from the clothing.
“Wait for something better?
I shouldn’t, it’s not enough.
Pull one excuse from another.
Just one excuse from another.
This time it means us.”
We’re left here. Listening. Finally listening. In your car. Only shadows covering our nakedness, temporary tattoos that will disappear come morning when we layer our clothes, redress our souls. And we find the layers of our soundtrack –the harmony, the melody, the chords — are just clothing to the lyrics we’ve been trying to undress from our first night drive.
All lyrics in quotations marks from songs from Clarity, Jimmy Eat World.