This is when cities belong to her. Dark, quiet nights, her yellow headlights a solitary blaze. She can almost see the bustle of the next morning, the ghost shadows of traffic jams and pink sunrises. Her breath clings to the windshield, creates hazy patches in her vision. She has to decide whether to stop singing to the music flooding her car, the beat vibrating her side view mirrors. That, or blast the defrost and turn everything up – the song, her voice, the air. She almost always goes with the second choice.
It’s a ritual, this late night return from a game. Her muscles throb with a familiar ache, one she welcomes for its memories of past games, past drives. Inevitably she thinks of college and one am treks back to school on highway 89 sandwiched between mountains and a salty lake. It was Jimmy Eat World and If You Don’t, Don’t. She can still belt out every lyric of that song, her face wrinkled in the story of the words.
It has been mostly big cities since then. 495 and industrial backroads. Rainier Ave and MLK. She knows this is how she stakes her claim. Or the claim stakes her. This tired, sore, exhausted, out of tune singing on empty streets, her soccer cleats steaming in the backseat.