15 December 2005

interstate of mind



It’s a Cutless Supreme in baby blue and the back door is broken- held closed with a bungee cord. It’s an automatic. It’s huge. The road is black as centipedes and the steam rises up from it from the heat of midday. There’s a shoe on the median. We’re behind a Chevy with a boat. The radio cracks out: “Those of you travelling to Florida for the holiday weekend will want to let some air out of your tires, the roads are hot and you don’t want problems.” I’m in the backseat with my The Little Mermaid sleeping bag and a chapter book about an old house and a young girl. My brother is laying in the floor of the backseat, listening to Weird Al on his walkman. I know he won’t let me use it. His hair is so blond. The sign says “Now Entering the Sunshine State” but it all looks the same to me. And it’s not sunshine, its rain. Hard infrequent bursts, the kind you can see ahead of you on the road and then behind you when you’ve gone through. This is past the age when rolling windows up and down is fun, but too early to be comfortable just laying with feet on the dashboard. It’s hot cold hot cold hot. The billboard reads “Fireworks! Fireworks! Fireworks! Exit 5.”
I start to bug my mom about stopping along the way. “But I’m hunnnnngry momma” I say, restless with my sleeping bag. “Alright” she says and before long the car is not on the road, but along the side in the dust. I open the door and struggle to find my flipflops. My legs are all wobbly from the long car ride and I look up to see a man with more wrinkles than face and a wooden table covered in watermelons. He has no shirt on. There are two little boys playing by the truck behind the table, shooting each other with their fingers, both winning and dieing at the same time. The sun is hot hot hot. The next exit isn’t for another 15 miles. “Two bags of boiled peanuts” my mother asks. He scoops a large spoon into his black vat, lifting a mound of boiled peanuts into a white Styrofoam cup. He hands her two paper bags and grumbles “wanna melon?” My mother shakes her head no and hands over 3 dollars. We bend our knees up and down three times before climbing back in the Cutless. My brother hadn’t budged from the floor. The styrofoam cup is warm in my hand and I pull out the first nut to meet its fate. I put it in my mouth and gently suck the warm salty water out from within the shell. Then I hold it in my thumb and forefinger and pop it open with my front teeth. I use my little hands to open the shell, secretly hoping like every time that the peanuts will be in tact and on the same side of the shell once the two halves have been separated. They are, and I get a little thrill from it before using my teeth to pop the peanut out of the shell and into my mouth. It tastes like summer, and Florida, and festivals, and salt, and love, and little boys playing cowboys. Peanut shells litter the highway for the next 2 hours.

1 comment:

Book Lust said...

Oh Ms. Blue, you write so good.