Thursday night thrill

Every Thursday night, right after physics tutoring, I roll my windows down and pretend I’m someone else. I turn my fake indie pop music up until the song runs through my veins. The violent wind flips through the papers I’ve thrown into my backseat over the past six months, as if churning up the responsibilities I’m ignoring as the night races on.

A chill runs up my spine. The voices are back, checking off my laundry list of insecurities. Maybe if I lost some weight, maybe if I wore more makeup, maybe if I hung out with people who made me question everything I’d ever known, maybe then I would be happy.

They told me that if I took the right pills, if I thought more positive thoughts, this constant longing for something more would subside. They made depression seem like a phase you grow out of, a period of teen angst that will eventually fade like the promises of a father who can’t decide between decency and deceit.

My hands grip the steering wheel as my eyes refocus on the empty street before me. I avoid eye contact in the rearview mirror, afraid of who I might see once the music shuts off. I take a left turn down a side street, prolonging the time between reality and this land of hopeful sighs and scream-sung lyrics. I think about the advice my grandfather gave me about driving cautiously and staying safe. These excursions probably don’t fall underneath the category of “defensive driving.”

I don’t do drugs. I don’t go to parties, outside of the ones where adults hand you gift cards and ask you questions you don’t have the answers to. I guess if I did, I wouldn’t admit it. There’s a certain shame in not having a valid outlet for your frustration with the world. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to step outside of myself and do something completely out of character. Sometimes I wish I could give my mom a reason not to trust me.

The voices in my head don’t let me think that far ahead. They won’t stop talking about how much I ate at dinner or the way my mom’s face fell after she saw my grades.  I wonder again if the medication did what it was supposed to do – wasn’t it supposed to slow down my thoughts? Make it easier to sleep and harder to lose my mind? The music is getting louder without my hand touching the volume. Stoplights are becoming fuzzier, my thoughts as muddled as the polluted night sky.  It’s time to go home.

The girl in the car speeding down Hedgecoxe in the light of the sunset is up for anything. The girl who steps out of the car twenty minutes later is afraid. Afraid of what she is. Afraid of what she isn’t. Afraid of what she’s turning into. Afraid of feeling this way five, ten, fifteen years down the line.

There isn’t time to worry about the big questions tonight – only time for the physics problems I don’t understand and the English novel I haven’t opened. I take a deep breath of the wind that felt so freeing thirty seconds ago. Time to return to reality – time to pretend this never happened.