After I got my driver’s license, it suddenly took me longer to drive home than it did to walk. I’d drive by my boyfriend’s house or along the route my friends on the cross country team took during practice. Even when I didn’t have places to cruise by, I enjoyed car time. I’d blast my music and sing along at the top of my lungs. The freedom of driving was addicting.
Now that I’m so much older, I want to spend as little time in the car as possible. Solo trips in the car are hard…without someone to talk to, my brain goes to dark and difficult places. Before I go anywhere, I study maps and traffic information and plot out the shortest route from A to B. There is only one exception to this rule, and that is when my route will take me down 15th Street.
On 15th Street stands a remodeled brick structure six stories tall. That building is a hospital, and in a room overlooking the street, Madeline died.
Too many times in the last sixteen months I have driven down that street and had to stop at a traffic light. One specific traffic light. When sitting at the intersection, you can see the window of the room she was in.
I can’t look.
I can’t not look.
In the few seconds I am at the light my heart races. And my mind drifts to those places I don’t want to go. To the things I don’t want to remember.
And sometimes, I imagine her still in that room, and if I would just stop the car and go up she’d be there.
But she is not. And when the light changes I have to drive on.
So that is why I take the long way instead of driving down 15th street. I will sometimes go miles out of the way to avoid it. I suppose we all have places in our lives like that, don’t we? The places that are best ignored? I know I can’t be alone in that.