Telephones, Tires & Mix Tapes


Our own deflated tire.  Someone else’s big fat one.   Tires are a current theme!  Eighteen years ago, from a very different place, I wrote this Haiku about tires.

driving at sunrise–

tires peel shadows from the road

and grow blacker still

Once, tires were mystical sacrificial transporters that consumed the dark and delivered me dawn.  They took me to Texas (I composed that poem driving out of San Antonio at first light), to Joshua Tree, to Big Sur and Big Sky.

For years they rolled me 800 miles in an eggplant-colored Chevy Cavalier, to my long-distance love at the start of each school holiday.

In between, on random weeknights, trusty tires took me down a desolate Ocean Parkway.  I could hear them humming in the spaces between The Replacements, Billy Bragg, Teenage Fan Club, and The Cure.  One side of Steve’s mix tape would take me from the Jones Beach Tower to Captree State Park and back.

In this time before cell phones, I would hear the voice of my love only two or three times a week.  We’d have to wait until late at night, when our shifts were over, or we’d returned from nights out in our separate cities.  At two or three or four am, in two twin beds three states apart, we would finally talk.   If I missed him terribly at, say, 10:30, I had to wait.  I couldn’t text him little hearts while he worked.

But I could get in my car, roll down the windows, and go for tire therapy.  Head south to let salt air coax the tears.  Crank up Can’t Hardly Wait, and miss him.  You could really, profoundly miss somebody then.

That’s why mix tapes were important.  The tape took you there when telephones and tires couldn’t.

Today, tires don’t seem to get the two of us anywhere.  Ours collect nails from construction debris.  Other peoples’ just block our sunlight.  Effectively this leaves us stranded.  In a sunless room.  Together.

Twenty years ago, I would have traded all four tires, the whole damn Chevy, the telephone, and the bed, for two minutes stranded in a sunless room with Steve!

Who needs tires?  I am right where I need to be–and we can peel up shadows ourselves.



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