It was two minutes to three when I clocked out. I grabbed my jacket, book, and tums from my locker and used the bathroom before leaving the building. I was expecting it to be frigid when the automatic exit doors slid open, but the rare February sun was doing a fine job, and it felt every bit of the 40 degrees it was.
I looked both ways before crossing the road separating Lowe’s and it’s parking lot, the wind lifting loose strands of hair that had fallen out of my pony tail over the course of the day. I felt overdressed crossing the dehydrated pavement that was caked with crusty salt; it didn’t feel like winter, but there I was, wearing bogs and a thick winter coat.
I opened the car door and sat down, placing my belongings in the passenger side. I moved my seat up a couple inches and adjusted the mirror. Nick and I have been sharing my car while his is being repaired in grand rapids, but today his shift ended at 3:30, and since I got out at 3:00 I was the one picking him up this time.
I plugged my aux cord into the charging port of my phone and found Ariana Grande’s album ‘Dangerous Woman.’ I clicked the first song. It had been quite a while, a few weeks at least, since I’d had the car to myself and could listen to my favorite music alone without feeling judged. Nick and I like a lot of the same music, but there are some things I wouldn’t expect him to listen to on a regular basis; Ariana’s song ‘Moonlight’ is one of them. Not 3 seconds later her voice was filling the car, and I was driving toward the apartment.
A thought occurred to me then; it came at first as a question: When did I first hear this song?
It was summer, I remembered that almost immediately. Some time around the fourth of July. Then several other thoughts populated and starting bouncing around inside my head:
I was at the beach when I first heard it
I listened to it almost every time I went there
I always went for walks to look for petoskey stones when I visited the state park, always right before leaving and always with both head phones in my ears
I was always tired
I was sad and miserable, heartbroken at best
But the beach was my happy place, and I was doing at least one thing that I loved almost on a daily basis, even if only for a couple hours.
And then I thought back to the sun that was shining in my eyes at the present moment, it won’t be long before it’s summer time all over again.
I started to imagine what I might be doing on the 4th of July this year, and then I remembered that Kinsley June will likely have just been born.
I won’t be spending time at the beach, and if I get to at all in June before her due date July 1st, I won’t be comfortable enough to really enjoy it.
At this point I was parked in front of our building and a ton of other thoughts started pouring in. ‘Moonlight’ continued to play in the background.
I kept thinking of how during last summer I’d drive to the beach with the windows down, the air filling every crevice of the car, lifting my hair and blowing it in every direction before exiting the car out any open window just to come back in the next and do it all over again. I kept picturing the waves, and the cool water splashing over my feet and up my legs with the occasional powerful burst. I imagined the sand and my hands full of beautiful petoskey stones, these tiny gems with the most intricate and unique design etched into each one; all the same, but different too.
And I was sad for a moment; sad that my life will never be exactly like that again. But then I looked into the center console and found a stray petoskey stone that hadn’t made it out of the car and into one of my three jars with the other stones I’d collected last summer, and I thought to myself, there is still time, I am still me, and my life will still be the same, but different too- in a good way.
I have so much hope for the future.