Sunday Drive

The ride back from Boston is usually a sad one. If the weather matched my mood, it would be rainy and overcast, with a cruel, cutting wind, and a damp chill. The sky would match my tears, pouring forth salty raindrops as if ripped from the sea.

But on this Sunday, it couldn’t be more beautiful. The few drops of rain that had fallen in the night were now a memory. The sun had risen and burned any haze away. Walking down Braddock Park, I bask in the warmth of this late-summer day, smiling at the father who is teaching his daughter how to ride a bike, the two of them awkwardly and endearingly adjusting their matching helmets. Flowers bloom along the way, resplendent in the rich fullness of a season of growth. Lime green hydrangeas hang over wrought iron gates, deep purple sweet potatoes trail against gray stone, and begonias bloom so vibrantly orange that any over-saturated photo-shopping would pale in comparison.

Normally I am in a rush at this point, wishing only to get out and back into the work-week mindset. On this morning, I take my time. The calls of excited kids sound from a park. A dog and its owner click along the sidewalk. A man with sunglasses, a cup of coffee, and a mop of morning hair shuffles groggily in the opposite direction. By the time the short walk to my car is finished, I am beaming in the simple beauty of the day.

On the turnpike, the first signs of fall are just beginning to show. A stand of burning bush has been ignited. The first shades of red are seeping into the sumac. A lone maple glows bright orange in a sea of green. Someone has to start the show.

Bright bursts of cumulus clouds explode above the road, hanging low in the sky like cotton puffs on a blanket of blue. It is a brilliant scene, and this is the kind of sky that only the onslaught of early fall affords. 

Then, I do something I never do: I open the sun-roof. Ask Andy (or Chris and his ridiculous convertible in California), I’m not a sun-roof fan. Black hair + Direct sunlight = Burning scalp. Today, the wind is refreshingly cool. I raise my hand and feel the rush of it over my skin. Twisting it slowly in the fast-moving air, I feel free. I feel connected. I feel happy.

Beauty is around me. Beauty is in the other passengers in other cars. Beauty is in the goldenrod nodding along on the side of the road, in the clouds flying overhead, in the waving reeds gone to seed. It is, above all else, a pocket of peace. Such peace is rare, such moments usually rush right by me.

I pull over to get gas, but instead of getting right back on the turnpike, I pull into a parking space at the rest stop and step out of the car. The distant rush of other vehicles is muffled from this far away. I stand on the sidewalk and stretch my legs, looking up into the sky, into that brilliant sun. It feels good just to be alive.

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