I was in college when I discovered how much I needed therapy. I was a freshman, living in the dorms, going through my first bout of “what the hell did I get myself into?” I had reached the end of the stage where everything was new and exciting, I was out of clean clothes, I missed home cooked meals, and everyone on my floor was starting to bug me. I was homesick and stressed about classes that had their first exams looming, and I remember thinking to myself that the campus had everything, except a good place to scream without looking like a moron.
And when I got home to visit, I hopped in my car to run an errand. I turned up the stereo and I sang every word of that song at the top of my lungs, and pounded the beat out on the steering wheel, and by the time I got back the realization had hit me: singing in the car is not just a way to look ridiculous as you pass by someone calmly listening to talk radio. It’s therapeutic.
There doesn’t need to be something wrong. Sometimes it’s just a beautiful sunny day and you turn up your favorite song, and you soak in the sunshine as you rock out to something that makes you smile. Sometimes, particularly after bad breakups, the car playlist always tended to get a little dark and self indulgent. For one boy, a little angry. That playlist came out over and over and over again… And you know what? Sometimes you just need a good cry and there’s no better place to do it than an automobile bubble on a long highway where no one is going to see your face all splotchy because your destination is still two hours away. It all depends what you need that day.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I kind of feel sorry for you, but you might like riding in the car with my husband. On our first road trip to my parents house, I plugged in my iPod and turned it up, and he grimaced. I hadn’t even reached the decibel level I turn my stereo down to when I’m talking on the phone, and he claimed it was hurting his ears. It kills me. When I get in his car, the first thing I do is turn off sports talk radio. I don’t understand. He says he’s not a music person. Sometimes that makes me feel like he’s missing part of his soul and I need to take him in for a transplant.
I’m sure ear doctors and those of you whose parents impressed upon you the damage of having your headphones too loud won’t agree, but I don’t think a song is fully experienced until it is loud enough that the bass feels like your heartbeat because it’s beating right through you. I don’t want to listen to a song, I want to be submerged in the song.
For years I’ve had almost daily sessions in my little red juke-box on wheels. And then a 3-5 hour trip to my parents, in varying frequencies, to give myself an extended therapy session. There were times I arrived home barely having a voice. I never heard my phone ring. It was an escape.
I realized on our drive home Sunday night how much I miss those. It’s nice to have someone to share the trip with sometimes, but that trip was my trip. It was my me time. Just like it’s nice to save on gas by just taking once car up to school most days. Except those short commutes were my me time too. Sure, I can find other ways to get some time for myself, but with gas prices as high as they are, going out for a drive just because doesn’t seem practical these days. And if I blared my music loud enough and sang in the apartment, the neighboring apartments would surely call the cops. There’s not really a place that contains your self concert like a vehicle.
I think I need to write myself a prescription for a long drive by myself… maybe to visit my sister after we’re back from DC. It’s just been too long.