Wednesday, January 26, 2011

12:03 a.m.

It's summer, 1994. I’ve sunken into the lumpily cushioned, cloth backseat of our station wagon. The Chevy Caprice is a big brown boat of a car, and we’re in the middle of the 1-70 ocean, halfway to Telluride. I know this because for the past four hours, I’ve asked if we are there yet. In the front seat, my parents ignore me. Utilizing the few visual elements of a very bare highway, they quietly play I Spy and eat chocolate-covered coffee beans.

I look at my Swatch watch. Time is slow. At least 8,000 minutes must have been killed by now. Between sunlit, lens-flared dozes against the car window, I've amassed a small collection of meticulously crayoned coloring-book pages, child-size crosswords and scribbled notes in the margins of my the American Girl Molly doll books series. Since leaving our house on Canturbury in the dark early of this morning, we’ve listened to my cassette, The Best of Elvis, five times. We will play the tape until the sun goes down against a flat Kansas horizon in the August evening. We will play the tape until it screeches to a halt in the middle of "Hound Dog" — until we don't need the music to sing it all. We will play that tape until Elvis is a part of me and us and I-70 and our fading, feigning memories.

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