Home About Me Contact Tumblr

Sunday, May 20

May 10th: Coming back.

She fished her keys out of the depths of her bag, and then looked at them on the palm of her henna-stained hand, the weight and feel of them so foreign after so much time. She felt the smoothness of the remote, pressed the unlock button, looked up at her large, black car that looked even larger and more black after coming from a country full of bicycles and tiny white vehicles.

Opening the door, she got into the faded leather seat. Then, she shut the door. Marveled at the silence of this interior, the absolute independence of owning and being able to operate a vehicle. She stuck the key in the ignition, startled at the sound of the engine starting, adjusted her mirrors, and backed out of her parking spot.

She was on the road. Testing the feel of the steering wheel under her hands, pressing lightly on the gas, having forgotten how it responded so accurately to her touch. She turned on the radio, and just as quickly turned it off, not being able to make sense of the sounds coming out of the stereo. Their patterns, those words -- they had changed for her, somehow. And so she drove on in silence for a long while. 

The roads were so quiet, she thought. Why were more people not honking? Why was everyone staying in their lane? Where were the cows and rickshaws? How had they gotten the pavement to be so smooth, so level? 

She felt like a foreigner in a strange land.

But then, more quickly than she ever could have imagined, she felt the familiar cogs start to slide into place. Her grip on the wheel changed, became more relaxed. She leaned back in her seat, tapped her foot casually. She rolled down the windows and as the stagnant city air hit her face, it felt familiar, and its lack of dust did not strike her as strange.

Suddenly, driving on the right side of the road no longer felt so foreign. Muscle memory started to take over as she navigated this desert city that was perpetually in a state of summer, with its gently waving palm trees and burning sun. 

She drove aimlessly for awhile, despite the fact that she had gotten no sleep in the last 41 hours of travel, despite the fact that she definitely did not have any money to waste on gas. She felt herself become swallowed by streets of skyscrapers and alleys of hipsters and the homeless. She drove until it was upon her, this familiar beast with its smog-filled fumes, blasting music, and the occasional smell of pot: LA traffic.

And so her day passed, inching along the 110 in complete silence with her windows down. And she felt herself settling back into this role, into this town. The longer she stared at them, the less foreign all of these shining cars, full of strangers in fancy suits and torn t-shirts, full of groups of high school kids who had never had to worry about dropping out to support their families, full of solitary men and women who weren't worried about being married off by their parents, full of people who would never speak to her in her native tongues, the less foreign they all seemed.

As she came upon her exit, putting on her blinker and slowing down to the appropriate 45 mph as she curved west into the setting sun, she stopped the car at the light and took a second to look at herself in the mirror. It was the same face that she had looked at 40 hours and 8000 miles ago. The same face that she had looked at for the last six weeks. But it seemed different somehow. Altered and changed, a piece of it fading, even as she watched.

And she realized that there it was, that mysterious ache that she had been feeling her whole life, that seemed to intensify from the ages of 10-17 before slowly fading away: the death of her past, her heritage, and a very real part of herself.

No comments: