Epistle from the Passenger’s Seat

Epistle from the Passenger’s Seat

If anything, I wish the clouds would play sunset again, but it’s night now, fourteen hours of travel behind us. I blame the skyscape for distracting us, for taking the deep conversations we could have had but didn’t have and creating instead chunky stretches of silence that felt both curiously comfortable and cautiously enlightening. It’s not that I didn’t want to dig deeper, to question and consult, to listen and learn and unburden, but it was sweet to share space and listen to the clouds share silent poems with their mountaintop wisps of wonder and condensation.

After many long hours trapped inside the cab of the moving truck, I wonder why we kept on so quiet, why we didn’t commit ourselves to cutting away at life’s layers, to father-son storytelling, but we know how those types of talks can so easily morph into militant reminders of mortality.

And, anyway, it’s night now. We’re exhausted.

For the last highway hour, you take the wheel and fight sleep with music. The truck is barebones, radio only, so we listen to a cheap Bluetooth speaker we balance on the cup holder, which sounds horribly hollow and underwater. I put on American Football and you ask if I ever listened to Neil Young. I change up the music and we listen to Old Man and, man, if I didn’t cry my eyes out. I should have told you I was crying but it was dark and easy to disguise. It was nighttime, after all.

Maybe it could have been a moment or maybe it was already a moment without bringing it up. Soon, you’re singing Heart of Gold and we’ve only got twenty more minutes until we’re off the highway and can rest until morning. And as much as I want out of this damn truck, to shit and shower and sleep, I want so badly for us to crash headfirst into a wormhole and time travel back to sunset. Orange and pink and persimmon. The glitches we saw in the sky, the almost-clouds. A time when time wasn’t time at all but all color and calm.

Because time is irrelevant until it isn’t.

Time passes and we are old.

Nighttime happens like clockwork.

Earlier, the sky was tangerine and sugar and it felt like we were floating. At one time, we could feel each molecule in our bodies, each atom in this tiny space, and each moment together flipped like a page of an oversized atlas. But it’s nearly pitch black on the roads now. We don’t feel anything but cranky.

A voice interrupts the music. It’s not mine or yours or Neil Young’s. It’s the GPS, direct and robotic. It speaks awful things: an exit ahead, a turn, a destination. About how infinity was never ours to begin with.


About the Author

Adam Gianforcaro lives in Wilmington, Delaware. His shorts essays can be found in Hobart, Complete Sentence, The Maine Review, and Hippocampus Magazine. His stories and poems can be found in Third Coast, perhappened, RHINO, Soft Punk, Maudlin House, and elsewhere.

Photo by Lukas Rychvalsky from Pexels.