Comfort & Change

The startling sound of friction from the rubber beneath me and the purposely placed road strips snaps me out of a shallow slumber. Eyes half open, I shoot a quick glance to the responsible party for my abrupt awakening, my mother. She is seemingly unbothered by the movements of the wavering wheel and instead has given in to an ever so slight head nod (mostly on-beat) courtesy of the catchy melody of none other than “Fergie-Ferg.” I am sure my mother was not who Fergie had in mind as her target audience when she put pen to paper on her hit “Fergalicious” but here my mother was, fully engulfed in the tune.

Is it possible to preemptively miss someone you’re currently with? I shook myself out of my thoughts and instead let my eyes bounce until they landed on the mile marker rushing towards my window. Before I could think another thought, my eyes struggled to match the speed needed to let the numbers come clearly into focus. With a whiz, the mile marker was gone.

I try again on the next one. To be clear, I can read the numbers, after all I’ve had 20/20 vision my whole life, but I want to maintain clarity through the whole endeavor. From the first moment of recognition to the last possible moment of sight, I want crystal clear imagery. Whiz, another mile marker gone.

In what felt like half the time, a third whizzed past, and I swear at least half the oxygen stormed out of my brain in revolt. Better give the cranium cameras a break from their carnival ride. I get the revolt, truthfully I too get motion sick from sudden movements.

What does that sign say? I try to focus on the distance to Phoenix, but just for a minute, given I was operating at half-staff. Lucky for me, I had enough focus to make out we had 265 miles to go. Didn’t the sign we just passed say 702? How fast are we going? I ponder only for a moment, as I know the time my mother has even let the thought of speeding cross her mind has been equally as brief.

I wonder if my mother’s mother had driven her to college too? I didn’t think so, but it was pleasant to imagine. There was probably no one in the world who made me feel as comfortable as my mother, so it only felt appropriate to spend this car ride clinging on to as many moments of comfort as I could while en route to the unknown that is the rest of my life and my future.

“Mom, I fucking hate you!” I wince as I recall the bitter words forcing their way through my lips. I can’t even remember what the occasion was that prompted such anger but I do remember that I most definitely overreacted.

I catch a little finger dance out of the corner of my eye and now I can hear that she has moved on to joining in on a Fergie and David Guetta collab, though she is about a half measure behind. Earlier she asked me what the words were and I really wasn’t sure myself if they were saying pump or fuck, but for the sake of my mother’s continued joy I told her pump. Five hours later, I only partially regretted that decision.

Mixed emotions return as my thoughts revert back to the substantial page I was currently turning, the last four years of high school. There were some amazing days, and because of what I can only attribute to raging hormones and a lack of outside perspective - there were also days where I was sure I would never make it through.

Every day though, my mother was there for me. Every day, she made sure that on the way to catch the bus, regardless of which side of the bed I had the pleasure of waking up on that day, that my favorite breakfast and breakfast tea would be ready to go. Every day, because of her, I wouldn’t have to miss a beat from barreling down the stairs to out the door and headed for the taillights of my ride to school.

My smile shifted to scowl as I tried to remember, did I ever thank her?

“Here we are dearheart, this is your dorm.”

Dang 265 miles comes at you quick. All around me, hundreds of barely adults were hustling and bustling. A hopeful ache churned inside me. My whole life up to this point, I had contemplated thousands of thoughts in the form of questions and here, the answers awaited me. I was glad to have my mother there beside me in the car. It was as if with her there, none of the soon-to-be answers could phase me, even though they wanted so desperately to swallow me whole. In this car, with my mother, I could breathe. I took a deep breath.

The hug goodbye came too soon, and I watched as my mother’s now empty car slowly pulled out of sight.

Thank you, Mom.

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