I put in the miles and smoked countless packs. I know every gas station attendant from me to you. The memories I have of us are tinged with the scent of gasoline and the strains of mix tapes. I count our time together in miles, not minutes. The worn spot on my brake pedal is synonymous with your face. I didn't say "I love you," I said "Hey, I'm almost there."
I would drive the highway and practice what stories I'd tell you to make you laugh and then get there and never remember after your greeting kiss. The distance never seemed that great. My tires ate up the asphalt and anniversaries weren't as important as a new set of tires or an oild change.
The way to you is so engraved in my mind that on long nights when I'm on auto pilot I find myself on the road toyour house. I have to correct myself before I wind up at your door confused and embarassed, blinking in the porch light as I stammer out an awkward excuse for why your past is standing at your door.
I miss the glow of the dashboard shining in your hair, the slight mumble of the highway adding a bass note to our conversations. The way your laugh would drown out the radio. Your feet were propped on the glove box so often it seemed odd when they weren't there. The rush of wind as you cracked the window and stole my cigarettes.
I would have driven for forever if you'd asked me. You and me moving onward and onward, always further, our hands linked over the gear shift.
But one day being my co-pilot wasn't enough and the calls stopped coming. The visits grew less frequent. The night drives were shorter and silent. One day I realized that I was an intruder, not a partner.
Now I only think of you when I roll past your exit. The music doesn't sound hollow without your voice anymore. I sing solo and harmonize with myself.
I heard your favorite song the other day. Rolling along I remembered every time you strained to hit the high notes with your smoke-filled voice. I know you sit shotgun in someone else's seat now, but that thought doesn't bother me any more.
I learned new highways and back roads. NEw gas stations and new rest stops. And today I drove a girl. She drummed out the rhythms in the speakers onto her knees and sat on her sneakers as she passed her cigarettes to me and let her fingers play with the wind. She had me pull over and led me down a path to a rock playground and danced with the firelies. We climbed boulders and sang down the moon. We wished on stars and she giggled as we made up the conversations of the frogs and the crickets.
I dropped her off as the moon started sinking and drove down gravel and dirt, kicking up clouds that spiraled up intot he stars. I sat on the hood and wrote you a letter I'll slip under your door as the sun rises. I told the paper what I never got the chance to tell your face. We were young gods, and now we're old news, but we're marking down our own routes away from each other.
I hope the glint of my tail lights shines into your window and you wake up with red on your bedroom wall. I hope it reminds you of our better days, because I want you to smile until your eyes cloud over from these words, because I want you to know one thing.
I forgive you, and you'll never get the chance to be better than me and apologize first.