When I was younger and lived in New Jersey, I used to go on late night drives by myself around town. I would start out at point A and blast my music for the duration of the calculated loop I made around the city as I tried to clear my mind by speeding on the empty highways and letting the midnight wind blow through the open windows and sunroof in my car. It used to center me and it used to help me deal with what ever stress I had been feeling that week.
I loved taking those drives. There was never anyone on the road except for me, my car, and the occasional random vehicle or copper I would pass in the night.
As I got older, these late night drives stopped happening as much due to the fact that by the time I was 27 I was living in Los Angeles and regardless of where I was at midnight or 1 am, there was always traffic, not to mention I was reluctant to drive anywhere for fear of losing my parking spot. I remember taking one trip around the city looping around the City of Angels via the 101, to the 405, to the 110, and back to the 101. It was the most stressful forty five minutes of my life and had the complete opposite of a calming affect on me and my psyche.
Motorcycles passed me at a high rate of speed on either side of my car drowning out the tunes on my radio and making it almost impossible for me to enjoy the ride, and due to the overwhelming population of the city, there was almost never a place to go where it didn’t seem like everyone else was driving too as well. I thought to myself it was ok though because at least I had made it out of New Jersey and I was doing something with my life. 10 years have past since that night, and come to think of it, that was the last time I took one of those late night drives by myself.
Last night I got home kind of early from my second job, went upstairs to sit on the couch and sometime around midnight I decided to go for a drive. I guess for years I didn’t think about how driving in my car alone listening to music actually helped to calm me down and made me feel stress free, even if it was for only a fleeting moment. I put on a song I love to hear when I am driving, I sang along to the lyrics, and I drove up and down the hills of my North Seattle neighborhood heading down Rooosevelt and ending up at the QFC to pick up some coffee and some gummi life savers.
I started singing along to the lyrics of the song playing in my Prelude.
“I’ve been asleep in the drivers seat. I’ve been lost in my head for weeks. Trying to find what it is I need. Too goddamn tired to sleep.’
I had this flashback to when I was driving around in my late teens/early twenties and there was nothing that could get in my way. It made me smile. It was the perfect retro moment that was topped off by the perfect driving song by a band called The Midnight. I could actually enjoy being in my car and accelerating up to fifty miles an hour with no one else on the road even though I knew the speed limit was half that. I could drive till the coast was clear, or at least until that part of my brain felt less clouded. It just made me feel so much better.
I haven’t been very stressed out lately which I am happy to report, but I’ve been tired as fuck and restless at night, even though most of the time I can fall asleep within half an hour of getting home. There is a part of me that understands why I’ve been working a lot and how my routine of going from one job to the other has kind of burned me out, but it has made me more appreciative of these moments in life. It’s not that I couldn’t do it when I lived in L.A., but I was always felt so irresponsible out about wasting gas, or getting into an accident, and these were NEVER things I thought of back when I lived in Jersey when I tried to drive my problems away. I think I truly missed that part of my life and I’m so glad it is back for good.
Sometimes the only cure for the late April blues is to get into my car, put on some really good music and drive aimlessly. It’s probably the only time in my life when I don’t mind not knowing where I am going because I know where I’ve been, and I know where I am, and of course, I know the road I’m on will always take me back home.