The Bends

story by Dereck
categories: Music, In a Car, Wanderlust, Wind
2006-10-26 21:47:07
I walked out the door, already knowing that I would be late. Unshaven. Shirt untucked. Jacket unzipped. Breakfast in hand. Every sign of a man in a rush. As I walked outside, I was greeted with a gust of wind. I ignored it at first, continuing to my car, but was soon hit with another. At this moment, I paused and let the wind flow past me. It was uncannily calming. I stood there, nearly paralyzed by it. I could not grasp why it felt like this.

The wind stopped and reason returned to me. I was late and had no desire to be any later. I walked up to my car and opened the door. The wind returned. It careened down the side walk and through the artificial valley formed by the neighboring car and mine. It was stronger this time -- more direct. Paralysis again.

As I felt the wind blowing on my face and through my shirt, I stared at the inside of my car. I knew it could take me to many different places. I thought about the places I know and how to get there. I thought about the roads I had seen but never travelled. I thought of places that I had thought up in my head, places that may or may not actually exist.

The wind stopped. I thought of a cubicle in an office, an office in an office building, an office building in an office park, an office park on a road clustered with other office parks, and the roads that connect that road to the very spot where I was standing now. I got in my car and started on my way to work.

I paid very little attention to the roads or to the cars surrounding me. I don't know how fast I was going, or how many cars I nearly hit. I found myself obsessed with the horizon. It was gray. It was dark, and getting darker as I drove. I couldn't look away. The wind was blowing against my windows. It was audible over my music. It was reminding me that it was still there. It didn't matter where I was driving, or that I had shut myself out of its reach. I turned up my radio to block out the wind. I continued to stare at the horizon.

I knew I was driving into a storm. Still, my mind couldn't help but use the easy metaphor. I was driving into darkness. Elsewhere, there was light. I don't know where, exactly, but I was definitely heading away from it instead of towards it. I wondered briefly if the wind was trying to guide me. I scoffed at myself and figured the wind probably has no idea where it's headed.

The song on my radio had a beautiful melancholy quality that I usually reserve only for headphones. It makes me close my eyes when I hear it. It's so beautiful, but so sad at the same time. It's the most honest expression that music can make, and it's so sad to hear it. I was overwhelmed.

I pulled into the office parking lot just as that melancholy song came to a close. I turned off the engine and sat in my seat for a few seconds. The wind was still there against my windows. I sighed a deep breath and told myself that I was doing the right thing.

Who was it in me, I wondered, who was telling me this -- and who were they trying to convince?