Intersections – Top Down
Spring worries me, because it leads to more illness than cold weather. I have stock in allergy medicine. Pollen covers everything. I only have one friend who drives a convertible in Atlanta. We have plenty of sunshine, but we aren’t a city of convertible cars. Not like L.A. Not much pollen there. Less rain. Our cars in Georgia have proper roofs and rightly so. What would my mother say if she saw me with my top down? She raised me better than that. At best, we are sunroof people, no matter the season.
I opened my sunroof the other day. That square foot of sunshine and air look like a video screen. I’m either all inside (work) or all outside (soccer mom), but hardly ever a little of both at the same time. When I opened the sunroof, a green inch worm tried to climb in. I shut the roof before he could parachute down. Now, I am not a convertible person or a sunroof person. The outside—moss and pollen and caterpillars—need to stay out.
Maybe I should feel ashamed of hiding in my mini-van kingdom. If it’s not covered in pollen, the dirt and dust keeps us coated all year. I can’t figure out when to wash it. All washing does is bring forth rain and snow and pollen. The inside is no better. My kids have found ways to terrorize me even when they aren’t in the car.
A single soccer ball rolls around in the back seat. A half-full jug of water swishes around in the trunk. It unnerves me as I drive, but when I get home I immediately forget to take it out. It’s been back there for a month.
When I put the windows down, the wind picks up loose bits of paper in the car. Empty granola bar wrappers and last week’s homework rise off the floor. Pieces of our life dance in the rearview window. This happens all the time. Windows down and suddenly everything is weightless. Empty chip bags, piano music, and unfinished artwork stay afloat in the wind like I’ve reversed gravity. Thanks, kids. They know I like Star Trek. Might as well turn my mini-van into the Enterprise.
I boldly go to work and school and soccer. I scatter squirrels and errant birds and new life forms and civilizations. Pollen blows against my windshield. I use the wipers to clear my view, but it looks like I’m hurling through space.
Last year, my convertible friend took me on a drive and for a moment it was California dreaming on Atlanta’s I-285. I’m sure she is sad for my mini-van life. I hadn’t felt the wind in my face since. . . ever. We were all sunshine and air and smiles. No caterpillars tried to hitch a ride.
Her kids are grown and gone, but mine are still being carried in my kangaroo pouch, the mini-van. It does not have much sunshine or wind, but it has sounds and magic and free rides for inch worms, as long as the inch worms stay outside.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom.