Any excuse to drive around aimlessly has always been good enough for me, but Saturday was especially good. From noon ’til 2, the student radio host on WSUM shuffled through the Springsteen song book from the late 90s and early 2000s – Tunnel of Love, Magic, Human Touch. By the time I was done at the bank, I figured I might as well drive around in the rain, listening to Bruce, as go home. I really don’t have enough responsibilities for someone my age. There’s nothing to stop me from deciding to stay gone, just so I can sing along with the radio for an hour or two.
So I escaped for a while to drive through the prairie that winds behind the Farm and Fleet in Verona. This prairie is an old friend. I went there for the sunrise, the morning after my mother died. I aired out my mind and heart many depressed days, climbing its mowed paths. After every visit, I left with more.
Still, I can’t remember any time it was more beautiful than Saturday. I felt I had never seen the clearings and the groves before. Saturated with rain, vivid green branches and golden flowers shimmered against the murky grey sky. I had to pull onto the shoulder – and just watch. Butterflies and birds came and went between the tall grass and the tree tops. With the windows open, I stared at the horizon, memorizing the curve of the hill, the space between the branches against the sky. No camera, just eyes. And all the while, Bruce. Is that you, baby – or just some brill-iant dis-gueye-eye-eyes?
I lost track of time, and the songs. Finally, I was ready to go. I had to make myself keep rolling past the further vistas of more and more sunflowers and rudbeckia, leaning toward the road, heavy with rain. I could have stopped every few car lengths.
Then, at the bottom of the hill by the huge, white equipment barn, I had to turn around and wind back up the road again. To re-absorb the plentiful sky and take in another scrap of wild prairie – just to have room to breath my heart back into my body. Because this song – Hello Sunshine (Won’t You Stay). Because this song – I got out my phone to text you, and I shouldn’t. Because this song – knows something so tender that I am not brave enough to say again. Because this song – I feel I can forgive Bruce now for “Nebraska.”