Driving relaxes me. When I was a kid, my sister and I used to play this game where we would drive around until we were ‘lost’ and had to figure out how to get back home. I was in a car with my dad the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit and howled out the window like a pre-teen lunatic. When I came back home with my tail between my legs after two months of couch-surfing, unsuccessful job-hunting and bad relationship choices, i didn’t even unpack: I drove. And when i was suffering with my worst bouts of insomnia and felt like dying, my only salve was creeping out in the middle of the night to drive.
I do some of my best thinking in the car. You feel something; you let it sink in and you drive away. I’ve never had a problem that felt as dire at the end of a car ride as at the beginning. The world around us is constantly changing and that’s never as abundantly clear as when you are driving fast and the stereo’s on shuffle.
When We Drive is my favourite song off of the ninth studio CD from Death Cab For Cutie called “Thank You For Today. ” That introductory bass line sounds like what it feels like when you slow dance your arm with the breeze outside of the passenger window on a hot, summer day.
I like the way that your hair tangles
The way your sun tan’s only on one side
We always keep the windows open wide
There’s never anything as pure as secretly watching someone you love. The million little things that ignite your heart. Like the way he crinkles his nose when he sings the girl parts of a song or the involuntary head nods that begin whenever the bass gets a bit too heavy for his taste or the shoulder shimmy he substitutes for full-on mosh-pit dancing in the car.
I can’t expect you to be honest
Or to be faithful every day ’til the end
I just need you to be always a friend
Ben Gibbard‘s voice was made for melancholy laments on relationships that just fizzled out. No huge blowouts; no dramatic ‘I hate you’ torrents; no scandal; just rueful respect and love and regret. I think these break-ups are the worst kind because you are not mad and you have too much respect for each other to be anything but kind in the aftermath- so you just feel sad and alone.
But you can always take solace in your memories. Memories that fester and expand until they become unrecognizable to the original experience. But I think that’s natural. Your brain decides if it was a good experience or a bad experience and your thoughts and emotions attach to that memory until it’s becomes something entirely different: an homage to a movie scene from 50 years ago or a music video for a song that wasn’t even invented at the time.
This song reminds me of a trip to Chicago we took early in our relationship. It was a difficult trip to say the least. Then on a whim, one day we decided to rent a car and drive down Route 66. It changed everything. We visited po-dunk tourist traps. We danced in gas stations. We stopped on the side of the road to pet a cow. We fell in love all over again watching the most amazing sunset fall behind a row of windmills as we drove.