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Friday, March 9, 2012

11,119 miles

When it was over and he let me get up again I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to die. The whole time it was happening to me I kept comparing how he looked, what he was saying, to the person he was before. This couldn't be the same guy who was so sweet to me. He couldn't be the same guy I got all dressed up for, was so excited to go to our school dance with. This guy was hurtful. And mean. And didn't care how many tears I shed or how many times I told him no. He just kept on going. At first when he pushed me down onto the front seat of his car I thought he was merely upset I didn't want to go there. But then when he ripped my dress, my new laser blue dress that I had taken a special trip with my mom to buy, I knew that's not where he was going to stop. Even when he was on top of me, his weight pressing down on me so very hard, I was prepared for the worst. Maybe not prepared, but I could see the scenario playing itself out in my mind. I want to say I went numb, but the fear definitely coursed through me. I was going to be raped. And there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing. Then after a few minutes when I realized something was wrong and he wasn't inside, not even close, I was even to scared to relax. He had me out in the middle of nowhere. He could have kept me out there all night if he wanted. Honestly, I was scared that would just cause him to hurt me more. I felt him there, atop me, trying so hard to do what he set out to do. I laid there, waiting. Crying. Too scared to scream any more than I already had. The next thing I knew he was off of me. He was telling me to sit up. He was telling me not to tell anyone what had happened. He had said exactly that if I told anyone he would do this again. He would find me no matter where I was. The only difference the next time would be that he would bring his friends. Even when he told me to get out of his car at my front door, panties clutched in a ball in my hand, hanging onto the strap of my dress with the other, all I could think about was how I was never going to tell anyone. All I could think to myself was if the price of my wholeness was my silence then it was a cheap price to pay. I had been in a nightmare, but somehow I had been allowed to wake up before it had ran its course. I told myself no one was ever going to know to keep it away from my memory, away from me. Even years later a part of me refuses to believe it ever happened.

Suzanne D.

Monday, March 5, 2012

61,512 miles

The world was on fire! The day before the schools of San Diego was evacuated, the morning Erica hysterically texts me about my well being, but I had one thing on my mind: Interpol! Noel and I drove to L.A. during the fires of San Diego and Los Angeles, the show was still scheduled and by far ended up being a great show. However after the show was when the fun began.

Let me stop here and mention a few things about the trip: First we made Second the mistake of having 2 CD's, Wet From Birth and Room on Fire. was that Noel drove a Jeep, clearly for off terrain purposes.

On the way from the venue to the car, we spotted a trail of blood leading to the Jeep and saw a bloody knife on the floor. We joked about how a serial killer was near by, but still speedily left the vicinity just to be safe.

Driving down the 5 to San Diego from Los Angeles, I noticed a few things. First the moon was super red and I couldn't tell if it was the October moon, or the reflection of the fires. The second was how eerily warm and calm everything was. All seemed tranquil until we reached Anaheim, when the Jeep's plastic roof/soft top came flying off. Noel, being the coward, decided it was a great idea to pull over and have me go get the soft top. Let me say, it was a terrifying experience, running into the freeway, in the middle of the night, wearing all black to recover a soft top. But the deed was done with much success, we put everything back in its place and headed home. Unfortunately, it all happened again when we got to Irvine. After attaining the soft top again, we decided it would be better if we just packed the soft top and drive without it. The weather would be fine as the heat from the fires would even out the cold wind created by the speed of the car. We were almost home, seeing the glorious "Oceanside- 7 miles" sign when for some reason traffic began to slow down. I couldn't see what was happening but cars were being directed to pull over. Eventually we came to there realization we might not make it home and our fears were confirmed when the police asked us to pull over and park with the rest of the traffic who were not making it home that night as well. I still recall seeing the crying children who wanted to be home and the concerned parents who wondered about their homes in the fires. Apparently the fires stretched out across the freeway. Noel at this point made the revelation that he lied to his parents and was not even allowed to leave the city. Coming from a Jehovah's Witness family, Noel feared his parents so we devised various schemes to make it home. The first was to drive on the beach. Our logic lead us to believe that water and fire won't mix and that since California is a coast we could eventually just drive down the sand to San Diego. Unfortunately, we didn't anticipate cliffs. We gave up on our other escapades. I decided to convince a firefighter to let us cross, since we lived so close (i lied) but he said that was not a possibility. He suggested that if we wanted to we could take the I-74/Ortega Highway all the way to lake Elsinore and take the I-15 south to San Diego. A stranger managed to jump in the conversation and offered us to let us follow him and his GPS if we told him the information provided to us. We were off to go home.

For those who never been on Ortega highway, let me tell you, its a fucking road on a mountain! The lanes were narrow and there is no artificial lighting at night. I never feared for my life so much as being on that road. It also didn't help that the stranger that wanted to join us on the way to San Diego, pulled over and decided to come out in the most Jason Vorhees-esque way ever! He approached our car and we had the option to pull over with him or run him over. Would you kill a would-be serial killer before he had a chance? Fortunately, he didn't end up being a serial killer. It turned out he needed help and asked me if i could drive his car for him. At this point he revealed that he also came from a concert and dropped acid. Never being confident of my driving skills I suggested it would be safer to let the man tripping on hallucinogens to drive on the narrow road on a mountain. As a precautionary measure we exchanged numbers to make sure that he didn't do anything stupid. We continued driving through the dangerous road finally making it to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, we had some problems at this point. First I got a call from out tripping hippie whose car had apparently transformed into a spaceship and was ready to fly to the moon. He wanted us to join him. His car was already swerving that we needed to be be several feet behind him as to not be in a collision, I kept screaming at him over the phone telling him to follow the road. However, another problem we came across was that apparently when one drives for several hours, gas begins to run out and being at the top of the mountain we had all but finished it. We had to drive down the mountain on neutral to conserved what little we had to boost us up to the road. Facing possible death, mine or a strangers, I looked out my window and saw the beauty of the town before me. Lake Elsinore, whose waters shimmered from the moon and the stars. If this was my last moment on earth at least I got a view. Everything went according to plan. We managed to survived, used whatever little we had of gas and made it to the first gas station nearby.

But the story does not end there.

You see we filled up the tank, got snacks and were ready to leave. While paying for our supplies though, I overheard some disturbing news: They were gonna close the I-15. All that hard work, all that stress for nothing. I explained the situation to the Sheriff that shared the news and he suggested that if i had the balls to get on the I-15 and drive like hell because ain't no one gonna stop us. The Highway Patrol and police's only goal was to make it to the cut off point to block of the road. I ran to the car, told noel what was going on and we sped off. I was in a police chase. Or at least that's what it looked like to an outside perspective, 11 police cars behind us while we sped like lightning. Nearing Fallbrook however things began to get unbearably uncomfortable. I would like to remind the readers we were driving with the jeep's soft top roof off, and there was a massive San Diego fire. Ash was falling from the sky and it was burning our skin, probably cause lung damaged and made it hard to see. Death was our passenger that night, he wanted to take us but we wanted to fight. I was tired of the music in the car as well, for devotees of this story might remember, we only had two CD'S and we kept playing the one by the Strokes, named Room on FIRE. I ejected it and tossed it out the window eventually hitting a cop car windshield. I still couldn't tell if they were trying to make it to the cutoff point or if they were now chasing us. It didn't matter though, the cutoff point was in our sight. We weren't gonna make it, they were putting up the barricades and unless we boosted through it our attempts had failed. However Noel said "grab on to something" and before we knew it we passed through the cutoff point, scraping part of the barricade before making it to the safe zone on the road to San Diego.

A drive back home from a concert takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Los Angeles to San Diego. The show ended at 11 pm that night, I got home at 7 am in the morning. We faced hell and survived.

F# Minor

Thursday, March 1, 2012

16,664 miles

Normally I don't like to leave my valuables in my car. I've heard too many stories about my friends forgetting to take stuff out of their car only to come back to find them missing. It's happened with their laptops, their purses, and what have you. I've always been swift to point out their stupidity.

My red umbrella that I've had for eight years, though, I never considered all that valuable. It's in workable condition and I've come to rely on it so it's not totally useless. Still, it had never been an object I'd consider a prize possession.

When I left it in my car three years back it was left on top of my passenger seat. I had thought it was going to rain, but it never did, and I was just too lazy to put it back into the trunk of my car. I had parked on the street, sure, but it wasn't a bad part of town. I saw many more expensive cars parked along the same block. I thought my car was safe since it was only going to be an hour in the middle of the afternoon. Not only that but there were several pedestrians walking on the sidewalk near my car. If anything I thought I would have more trouble with going over the 1 hour time limit.

You can imagine my surprise when I came back to my car and found my passenger window broken. I thought the worst. I checked if my stereo was still there. I made sure everything was still in my glove compartment. I even checked underneath the seat to see if I was missing anything there. Nope, the only object they stole was my old ass umbrella.

To this day I still don't understand the urgency with which they needed an umbrella or what value they saw in it. Maybe they saw it lying on the seat and decided it was ripe for the picking. Perhaps if I'd left a rubber ducky there they might have taken that. Or a small cat. Who knows?

What's even stranger is they left a business card for a local podiatrist. I don't know if they wanted some type of barter, weather security for health security, but I didn't consider it a fair trade. How often am I going to use a podiatrist as opposed to the number of times I'm going to need an umbrella? I swear.

I really miss that umbrella.

Nosm O.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

47,365 miles

I don't often get flustered, but flustered is what I had to call it. Zach was still pressuring me to go to school with him up in Ann Arbor. While Michigan has a fine music school, I had my heart set on Indiana. I had campaigned very hard to be accepted into Jacobs and I knew that anything else would be second-choice. But, as he had pointed out, I had also campaigned very hard to stay with Zach. At one point or another over the last two years I had realistically seen myself staying with him for the long haul. And now here he was, standing in front of my parents' driveway, trying to convince me that I'd be happy and that "one music school is as good as another but is somebody else going to be as good to you as I am?" He kept asking me if I was going to regret choosing a school over someone who loved me this much. Hence, flustered.

I told him I didn't have all the answers just yet. I still had some time before either school needed an answer. Zach was a different story. He was moving to Michigan in three months because he already his sister there. He didn't see the point in staying around if I told him no and wanted to be settled in with me if I told him yes. He wanted his answers now. I told him I'd let him know at the end of the day.

Then we got in my truck to drive to dinner. On the way over we rode in silence. I didn't play any music, we didn't engage in any conversation. Silence. I don't know what it was about the silence that finally led me to choose my dream school over my dream guy. It wasn't uncomfortable silence. I suppose when it came right down to it I knew I had to make a tough call and either way I wasn't going to be completely happy. I just didn't want the stress of stringing it out any more. I wanted it done for no other reason than to prepare for the fallout. When it came right down to it, I was more scared of the indecision, than what my choosing would mean.

I realized that having a future, any kind of future, means giving up other futures. The worst thing for me, though, was the idea of being uncertain. I didn't need to deliberate over my answer, one call was just as good (or bad) as the other. So I made my choice, which was basically a coin flip, in the span of the seven minutes from my parents' home to the local Italian place while my odometer ticked over from 47, 364 to 47, 365.

By the time we got to dinner I knew it would be one our last meals together as we were once. I don't know if it was the right call. I don't know if I ever truly will.

Faye F.

Friday, February 24, 2012

100,016 miles

I was driving past the reservoir, listening to ‘More Adventurous’ when it hit me. I was pregnant. I pulled to the side of the bridge and stood there, taking in the water and feeling the wind hit me harder than it should have. I was seventeen, hardly old enough to know what I wanted out of the rest of my life. Hell, I hadn’t even finished high school. Things had started turning around for me in the previous months, I quit hanging around stoners and scheduled the ACT. I had a long distance boyfriend who loved me and I was blowing through my coursework like I was starring in the Return of the Prodigal Student. Everything was falling into place. But then I began to feel this alien emotion, something maternal and foreign. I called you, because you’re the first person I needed to talk to when making a life altering decision. You weren’t the father, you weren’t even my friend at this point, but I loved you and these are the kind of moments that drew us in close enough to pretend that we had some sort of resemblance to an amicable relationship. The phone rang once, twice, three times and then finally I heard your voice. You said my name with a sort of surprise I wasn’t expecting; a mix of shock, hurt and disappointment only you could turn two syllables into. “I’m pregnant,” was all I could muster. You thought I was calling to tell you that you were the unlucky bastard who knocked me up and you were silent. “It’s his. I don’t know what to do. Is this going to ruin us?” I was shivering, it was late summer but the water was cold and the wind had picked up. Then you spoke, “You already ruined us years ago.” I hung up and threw my phone into the lake. I stood on the edge of that bridge, thinking about how the water would feel if it hit my body. Probably like ice, or knives, neither of which I was desolate enough to face. I shut myself in my car and turned the speakers up. “And if I get pregnant, I guess I’ll just have the baby. Let it be loved, let me be loved” rang through my car, heart and mind and I knew. My mind was made up, I was going to be a mom and I was going to learn to love the person who loved me.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

115,363 miles

The first time I drove by myself I was eight-years-old. I was attempting to be helpful, to do a good deed for my folks. But like my daddy says, you can spoil dinner by cooking it too much as cooking it not enough.

I gathered up my mother's keys out of her purse and set out to the driveway with the full intention of scooching it back a few feet to allow my mother space to get out. I unlocked the driver's side door, climbed up, and started it up. I had to stand to reach the pedals which was my first mistake. There's no feathering the gas pedal when you're in a full upright position. You're either standing on the pedal or you ain't. The next mistake I made was attempting to reverse out of the driveway. Even with all those impromptu driving lessons I had with my daddy, the need to explain the hows and whys you reverse a vehicle had never arisen. Go figure. I hadn't learned what the rearview mirror did. Hell, I was even lucky to have been able to see the mirror at all, let alone see what was behind me. I knew three things. One, I knew how to get it started, which I did. Two, I knew how to put it into reverse, which I did. Three, I knew how to pull the parking brake while pressing on the gas.

The truck took off like a greyhound at the track. In reverse. Down the driveway, across our tiny two-lane residential street, and to the other side of it. Luckily, my progress was stopped before I could cause damage to our neighbor's house.

Unfortunately, my progress was stopped by a massive telephone pole.

It threw me away from the steering wheel and against the passenger side of the cab. I was lucky it hadn't thrown me through the windshield or any other of the windows. As it was, I was sufficiently dazed to not realize exactly what had happened. All of this had taken place in less than ten seconds, if that.

When my mother found me two minutes later, I was crying inside the still-idling truck. The pole prevented it from moving, but it didn't prevent it from causing sufficient noise and fervor to make all of our neighbors to take notice. Not only that, but my little stunt had also proceeded to tilt the telephone pole a small distance. No, it wasn't in any danger of falling or I wouldn't be sitting here writing this to you, but it did add to the list of transgressions I was guilty of. Singlehandedly, I had knocked out service to our area for the next four or five hours before they could get a guy out to fix it.

After my mother ran to me and made sure I was okay, I proceeded to get a tongue lashing that I'm still not sure to this day has ever ended. I know my mother never allows me to live it down.


34,722 miles

It's funny that everything in my life was racing at the moment and yet the car was sedentary. She slept comfortably in the back seat, my brown blazer keeping her warm, as I watched her sleep. I never felt so lucky in my life. The truth is that nothing had gone to plan but it didn't matter, for that weekend she was mine and nothing could change it otherwise. It was dawn.

She tried hiding him from me, but I met him before. I knew who he was, and he knew my intention, but she kept us away from each other, at least I think she did. I recall moments in restaurant with friends, Patrick and Brian, after a concert showing pictures of her adventures and he would show up. She would play it off as "a friend" or "no body" but I knew who he was. Still I mustered up the courage to get her to run away with me for the weekend.

The town would be ours: music, plays, food, drinks and Los Angeles. I still recall the preparation and what I would say to her, yet she is the one who surprised me days before we ran. "We need to talk", my heart froze when she typed those words." You know I have a boyfriend right?", the fear of rejection came to me, so petrifying that I felt the urge to regurgitate and yet then she continued on how things would change and that she was going to break up with him that very weekend. Instead of breaking my heart, she had made it smile, she just wanted a permission to slightly change our plans to do the deed, break his heart, forget him and spend it with me. Saturday morning would be his last day, but we still had thursday and friday. Thursday, the tap dancing gimmick band entertained us while we contemplated the solution to the issues of our lives; fridays we became humanitarians as we donated money to the starving artist whose equipment was stolen the night before. Yet saturday was what I was most concerned off. Would she really do it? Was she just stringing me along for a ride or using me? Of course I was insecure, he was a pretty boy actor, I was a poor pizza boy, and yet I had some sort of faith. We checked out of our hotel room on saturday morning, to spend it with him, eventually trying to do the deed, and I would explore Los Angeles and wait till she returned in an 4 hours. Those hours turned into half the day, half that day turned into all the day and by then night had arrived, I stood heart broken in a Denny's on Sunset Blvd and then I get a call with an apologetic voice. She explained that he refused to let her go so easily, as I would in his situation, making it harder to come back to me. And yet she did.

We headed to our friends Patrick's apartment who would let us share his couch, enough room for one of us, but two would suffice, but by then Patrick refused to answer. Leaving us to spend it in her car. She had no complaints. She could have gone home, she could have lied to me and stayed with her ex boyfriend, she could have done many things but instead choose to meet me in los angeles to eventually spend the night in a car. I took the role of the last Centurion as she began to fall asleep. Ever vigilant. How could I sleep? When my heart was racing, the girl of my dreams had no issues sleeping in a tiny car with a boy who had nothing to offer except his heart. Till then, I never felt so lucky and I knew it was just the beginning.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

97,467 kilometers

I was always pegged as the first to get married out of all my friends. And here I sit, alone, single, in my car on the side of the road on a drive back down south after a wekeend away. She had just had her baby that weekend. A beautiful baby boy. 7lbs 2oz. I had spent my entire weekend with babies. So. many. babies. Maybe it was a combination of the snow falling slowly, or the Taylor Swift on the radio, but as the smokestack grew smaller in my rear view mirror, I couldn't help but cry. I was crying so much I had to pull over to the side of the road. I began thinking of how nothing seemed to be panning out as I wanted. Sure, I have a good job that I studied hard for in school, I'm a real "Career Woman". That's fine for most, but not for me. I never wanted a career. I always wanted to be a housewife, with four boys, cooking dinners, baking deserts, mending socks....

But I began to think of all my classmates and friends who are already married, and have been married for a few years already. Then my mind began thinking of all the classmates and friends who are already divorced or separated. And I began to laugh. Laugh at my own stupidity. I'll be 24 in August. By the time I'm actually ready to settle down with my life and financially and emotionally ready to have a husband, or children, all my friends will more than likely be going through divorces or separations.

And just as I was about to pull back out into the highway, a moose walked out from the forest and just stood there staring at me. And I just smiled back, knowing that I was doing just fine with my life.

Emily K.