The cars roll slowly –bovinely, stupidly– along Massachusetts Avenue.
It’s not the cars’ fault, of course: I should have walked to my friend’s house but didn’t and here I am paying for my fuel indulgence. It’s four-thirty in the afternoon. This is Washington D.C. It will be Christmas in six days. The year will end in twelve more. Did I really expect to traverse Capitol Hill in less time?
I push the radio’s ON button. The Globe plays a song I haven’t heard in a while. I listen, and I’m suddenly transfixed.
It’s Cracker’s "Low" and it’s a song I’ve always liked but somehow been afraid to like after associating it with my first car accident ever– the hi-hats crashing around 1:51 into the song could have been choreographed in sync to the Toyota 4X4 barreling into the left side of my car, inches away from where I stared at it doing so, wordless and uncomprehending.
I was fine. The car, not so much. That happened a while back. No scars, until the song envelops me.
I see sad, naked trees. I see exhaust fumes and the last light of the day clinging stubbornly to this short winter’s day. The guitar distortion sounds like agony itself, being ripped away from the prying fingers of the sunset and it hurts somewhere near my tear ducts.
A bus rolls by.
Suddenly I realize I’m gripped by the panic that the song might end and I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to hear the uniformly happy and vaguely yet harmlessly sexy DJ voice that can be heard in every radio station across the English-speaking American continent tell me anything. I don’t want the weather or traffic and I don’t want to win concert tickets: I want to be left alone with the sudden mourning for the dying of the light I’m experiencing.
But the song ends anyway. It really only has been four minutes and change, and not an existential eternity.
The turning arrow turns green and I sit there, once again uncomprehending but somehow glad.
A car lets me pass. The street opens up and invites me to race, even just a little bit. My brain didn’t notice when the saccharine song followed by the angry song started playing, but suddenly the light looks lovely. And soon enough I’m home and I realized I had to write this.