Backseat Driver

Being trapped in a confined environment can turn an ordinary experience into a powder keg. Write about a thing that happened to you while you were using transportation; anything from your first school bus ride, to a train or plane, to being in the backseat of the car on a family road trip.

You’ve likely never been on a road trip with my family.

My parents…talk.  Talk talk talk.  Low hum; loud roar.  They talk about nothing.  They talk to hear themselves talk.

It is Saturday.  I have flown in from the East Coast; have landed at 1am; driven from LAX to their house; arrived at my destination at 2am.  Upon arrival, I stood outside their house, bewildered.  I texted a friend in Asia, who I knew was awake: It is 2am Pacific time; I am standing outside my parents’ house; I just realised I don’t have a house key.

A beat.

It was then that I remembered a message from my father with the code to open their garage.  I got into the house.

I slept fitfully and woke up and dressed and now I am in the car, and now we are driving, and now they are talking.  Talking talking talking.  About everything and nothing.  To each other and the other drivers on the road.  They talk.

We are driving from Los Angeles to Paso Robles; up Interestate 5.  Taking the inland route.  Across Hwy 46 towards the Coast.  I am listening, and they are talking.  I sit in the back seat beside my little brother, who is much, much bigger than I am — I am 5’3″, and he is around 6′.  He has given up on The Conversation.  He is streaming something on Netflix to his phone.

He is Used To This.

In another era, in another life, we would not have lasted even this long.  Our need to keep the silence at bay would’ve broken one of us.  The words would’ve been sparks; tinder, and the whole thing would’ve gone up…BOOM.

But now, they talk.  And I observe. I dig through the cooler, and I drink all their sparkling water.  I pick up my father’s hat and snap silly photos of myself wearing it.


And Matthew watches South Park on his phone, occasionally chuckling at something far away from us.

It is all far away from us now.

They pick and they talk, but the tinder does not ignite.

Instead, the ordinary moment becomes quite extraordinary: We laugh.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s