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Driving Home

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I blink my eyes, hoping to clear the halos clouding my vision. It doesn't help much, so I squint and lean at odd angles in the driver's seat of Mitchell's Suburban. But my attempts to hide my over-adjusted eyes from the headlights of the southbound lane end in failure; I shrug, tell myself to deal with it, and keep on driving.
It's annoying, but in a few minutes the rest of the late night traffic, excluding the occasional semi, vanishes and the lights of Mathis fade behind us, and again we're alone with the full moon and the South Texas highway. Mitch passed out with his head on the console right after we got off the island seventy miles ago. I can't blame him: the stupid kid hasn't eaten a real meal in four days.

I down a Gatorade and glance at my watch'2:45 a.m. Idly checking my pockets I find a lone American Spirit and light it up. I don't want to wake sleepy head, but I crack the window anyway. I'm pretty sure it will take gunfire, a car wreck, or hitchhiking supermodel to get him to stir.

How many of these have I had since Thursday? I think about it a while and finally settle on nine. Well, I ran five miles Friday night; that has to take off at least two or three. Then I imagine myself in running shorts, standing at the bottom of sand dune on the shore of Lake Michigan, already breathless, with a fine layer of tar coating my lungs. I put my cigarette out with wetted fingers before tossing it. I check the time again'2:47 a.m.'and watch for mile markers.
The first one that emerges out of the dark says ninety-three miles to San Antonio. Halfway there. With the work week starting in less than six hours I put my foot down and watch the speedometer jump to ninety-five. Mitch may have all of Monday to sleep off the weekend, but I've no such luxury. Despite the fact I'll have to survive through a full work day before I get to sleep, I already know it was worth every second.
Because, when I'm looking back from the twilight of my life, this will be what I remember: tethering our boat to an oil rig amongst the rise and fall of fourteen-foot swells to go spear fishing five miles off shore; dropping anchor and casting our lines in the murky waters a hundred yards from the supertankers sliding unstoppably by in the channels; walking along side our boat, knee deep in muck, to guide it through marshes only six inches deep; diving overboard after a hat while clipping along at twenty five knots; driving for my first time, slow and cautious amongst the traffic and chop of the harbor, and then tearing along at full throttle out on the open water; stealing dinner from commercial crab traps; showering off all the sand and salt and sweat and heading out for a night on the town only to come back at dawn sandy and salty and sweaty.
And on top of it all, I will remember driving home, my friend and brother asleep in the seat next to me, sand still in my hair, cuts and burns and bruises all over my body, the sound of waves crashing in my ears, the light of the sun still in my face, and knowing that no matter what no one will ever be able to take this serenity away from me. I smile. Only sixty miles 'till I'm home.





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