It was out in the desert during the winter, on historic route 66, that I learned to fall in love. The four of us were exhausted, and I was curled up in the back seat with my coat thrown over my body like a blanket, my puke-green crochet hat an uncomfortable pillow. We had been driving all day, now trapped somewhere between the twelfth and fifteenth hour, though even a clock couldn’t quite tell me how long it had been, as hours had melted together and the day had been so long that I had no recollection of what time we had left.
There were no lights lining the highway. The occasional headlights from other vehicles signified signs of life, but we were cruising at 85, and I was glad that the company of other drivers only lasted for a mere seconds as we blurred past them.
I was restless, and I could not sleep. I thought it was unusual how bright it was, like the sun was shining in my eyes, but there was no warmth and the car was surrounded by a velvety darkness that sat heavily on my eyelids and tried to coax me to sleep. But I couldn’t sleep. The darkness was half-hearted, the illumination too sincere. I turned my face to the window and pressed my cheek to the cool glass and turned my green eyes to the sky.
O! It was love!
The moon hung in the sky, bright and alert, fondly shining down on desert below. It was so clear, and spread its luminosity with such fervor that not an inch of the sky could escape its intense light. The stars were more than small pinpricks in a deep blue curtain. They were grand, glowing headlights, burning with the same passion of the cheap LCD screens that littered Las Vegas. But they were honest, and twinkled and winked at each other, and twinkled and winked at me, the tiny girl in the car who stared at them with such admiration. I felt my heart breaking because I would not, could not, join them in the vast space so unattainable to us trapped under the clouted atmosphere.
I had an urge to climb into the drivers seat and thrust the wheel to the side, to harshly swerve the car onto the shoulder and scramble out. I wanted to dash out into the desert, to the distant mountains, and lay in the freezing cold staring at the sky, motionless, awestruck, letting the snowflakes cover my body in a thin layer, preparing me for death.
I felt my blood flow richly through my veins. I felt romantic. I thought of my boyfriend back at home, how I wanted to transport him here and make love to him in the desert, in the mountains, under the stars, under the earnest moon. I wanted to press his body to mine and feel his warmth and his irregular heartbeat and synch our fast, hurried breathing together in the endless landscape under the endless sky.
I felt tragic; lonely.
I felt my heart break.