Into The Great Wide Open

Into the great wide open Under them skies of blue Out in the great wide open A rebel without a clue


I love to drive. I don’t understand people who don’t. Not in a judgmental kind of way. When conditions are ideal, I could drive forever. Drive with me?

Going to Ottawa. Viola is turning 50. When did my friends start turning 50? My parents’ friends turned 50, not mine. Mom said it would take 2 1/2 – 3 hours. I’ll make it in 2. It’s 5:20 pm. Start the car. Seatbelt. Radio. Smokes on the dash. Back out. Turn up the radio.

I’m on the highway. Turn up the radio. Open road. I love driving. Traffic. I don’t love traffic. Ease off the gas, flick the turn signal. Take the exit. I’ll cut through town to get to the TransCanada. Not too much traffic, but there are lights. People cruisin’. Minivan in front of me rolling along at 40 km. Thinking “Move Buddy!” Buddy moves. Open road. Turn up the radio.

Cage The Elephant comes on. Makes me think of MikeWJ.¬†Oh, there ain’t no rest for the wicked, Money don’t grow on trees.¬† I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, There ain’t nothing in this world for free. I know I can’t slow down,
I can’t hold back, Though you know, I wish I could. No there ain’t no rest for the wicked, Until we close our eyes for good.

Back on the highway. I pass St. John’s exit. Flashback. I am 18 and I’m driving¬† friends home. Man in the middle of the exit, waving madly at me. Hit the brakes. Too late. Pothole. No. Construction hole. Someone stole the cones. Flat tire. 4 other cars already pulled over. Bill changes the tire. Cops are there. I realize I left my purse at the bar. Can’t do anything about it. A world before cell phones. I finally get home at 4am. My purse is stuck between the screen and front door. I love my friends.

Open road. I drive. The music is good. The sun is to my right. Light up a smoke. I’m singing. In the blink of an eye, I am at the Ontario border. I cross. The road is smoother. The radio cuts out. I’m flipping through radio stations. Lots of country. Lots of classic rock. Peppered with some easy listening. Classic rock it is.

Live is playing. Lightning Crashes. Turn up the radio. Flashback. I am 28. It’s Christmas Day and my kids are at their dad’s. I’ve been cooking all day. Mike, Peter, Shawn and Andy are over. Andy and Mike have brought guitars. We eat. We drink. We sing. We play “Stump the Guitarist”. I try to get them with Lightning Crashes. They play it. Andy sings. I nearly got them with Squeezebox, but they managed that too. I think I did get them. Eventually. But I don’t remember for sure.

Light up a smoke. I drive. My mind hums. Car behind me. Close. Too close. Ease down on the gas, flick the turn signal. Right lane. Car speeds past. Mustang. Bastard. I have car envy. Pink Floyd is playing. Wish You Were Here. Turn up the radio. Flashback. I am 17. I’m on the subway with friends. Peter, Mike, Gaby. We’re going to the Pink Floyd concert. I sing Wish You Were Here. Badly. We laugh. We sing Comfortably Numb. A taste of things to come. Awesome concert. Awesome night.

I’ve arrived. 7:30 pm. 2 hours. I smile. Happy Birthday Viola. Food, friends, fun. Over too soon. 9 am, back in my car. Seatbelt. Smokes. Radio. I drive. Open road.

Blondie comes on the radio. Flashback. I am 12. There’s a dance in the gym. Sue and I are dancing to Blondie. Rapture, I think. We’re wearing balloon pants, mine are blue, hers are yellow. We know all the words and we’ve choreographed our moves. We’re too cool. Boys are lined up against the wall of the gym. The girls dance, the boys watch. Until a slow comes on. REO Speedwagon.

Meat Loaf. Paradise By The Dashboard Light. Turn up the radio. Flashback. I am 17. We are camping for Gaby’s birthday. We are drunk. There’s a fire. Gaby is dancing around the fire. She takes my hand and pulls me along. We are laughing. Just stop right there. Flashforward. I am 36. Gaby has a May Day party. I’m in Toronto. We danced around a pole. We drank. Gab throws on Meat Loaf, we dance, we laugh, we reminisce.

Open road. Blue sky. I drive. Black Betty. Flashback. I am 19. I am drunk. Walking down the street with friends. Big Alex. The song is playing. Someone walks past. Makes a comment. I turn. Excuse me? You got something you want to say? I start towards the stranger. Then my feet don’t touch the ground. Big Alex picked me up. I’m singing Black Betty. Where is the song coming from? We get to Alex’s car. I wake up when we stop in front of my house.

My thoughts drift. I’m nearly home. Light up another smoke. Tired of classic rock. I flip through the stations. Dance music. Keep flipping. Classical. Ugh. Need something I can sing along with. Flip. Madonna’s Like A Virgin. FLIP. But I’m not fast enough.

Flashback. I am 16. We are in Vik’s car, driving up north. Vik, Hubie, Si, Gab and me. Vik has a Supra. Or a Celica. I don’t remember anymore. Madonna is playing. We went bowling and then we ate at a restaurant. Which one? We convinced Vik I stole my bowling shoes. I pretended to steal the salt shakers off the table. Panic in Vik’s face. We laughed.

11 am. I pull into the driveway. The open road is behind me. I drove. I turn the radio off. I’m 42 again and I’m home.








Related Posts



  • RSS Feed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest