I feel like my mind is set in neutral with the gas floored -- spinning and spinning, disconnected from everything in the actual world, my conscious thought process taken up by keeping track of every other car on the road whipping past or being whipped past at upwards of 70 miles an hour, my unconscious mind taken up by the songs that I somehow sing along to although I haven't necessarily heard them before.
When I haven't driven in awhile the experience is one of catching up with my own life, of emotionally rebalancing myself, without thought, until I reach a new equilibrium. Zac, Chris, Seth all hit me the most in the car and I drove them out of my system and into more permanent, less disruptive parts of myself. After Betsy John I felt sickeningly nothing until I was behind the wheel. I pulled my car over eight times on my next trip to my parents', unable not to cry every time I hit 60 miles per hour. I could calculate in miles, or hours, how far every hard thing in my life since the legal driving age has taken me to reconcile.
Leaving school, surprisingly, took only until about the stoplight in Woonsocket on rte. 146.
My most recent trip, back to RI, was the different, more wonderful kind of road trip, when I have nothing left unfinished to reconcile and my mind is free to spin creatively. Today was the sort of surreal drive where I forget I'm actually going from one place to another, where it's dark like 11 pm at 5 o'clock (I have lived at this latitude all my life and will never be used to that), where I am grateful to traffic for giving me just a few more uninterrupted hours, where I listen to all the Coldplay I own in place of the new cds I had intended to listen to and talk aloud to myself whole chapters of novels.
When I'm driving like that, when the inspiration is impermanent and I am the only witness to it, it's the only time I feel like a brilliant author. I can repeat the scenes I've created precisely between toll booths like rewinding a tape, but it fades when the car slows down until I remember the plot but not the emotions and not the words. I want to be frustrated, to be actively devising a way to capture those words without scaring them off (a tape recorder? stopping at every rest station to frantically tap away at my laptop? taking more road trips with my parents, like when I was younger, where I could pretend to be asleep in the backseat and write uninterrupted and unnoticed?), but instead I'm satisfied, like I've just seen a truly beautiful movie.
When I was a kid, I used to tell made-up stories aloud to my ashram siblings in to-be-continued fifteen-minute intervals (the distance between the two properties), with the 9-year-old version of "suspense points" at the end of every "chapter." Those were my happiest times of day -- the center of rapt attention, in control of my character's destinies and my friends' emotions in response to them, prized and unique. That was my first and, until a relatively recently discovered fanfic audience, only time in the literary limelight and probably my newfound desire to be a published author comes in the hope of recapturing that.
Maybe I'm not meant to be truly creative on solid ground, that stationary writing in front of a computer screen is a learned behaviour for a naturally developing object in motion.
I draw no real conclusions from this except that today was a wonderful, magical (dare I say it -- gleeeful?) day.
*love!* to all who survive my insomniac musings