The road rumbles around us. Brilliant New Mexico sun shines through the windshield. Brilliant October blue sky surrounds us.
In the seat next to me, she sleeps. On the truck’s MP3 player is this song, Piercing Quiet by Tritonal. It resonates in me. Listen here as you read…
“The world’s in constant motion
And so are all of us.
You love the glow of sunrise.
My stars come out at night.
Your quiet pierces through me,
There’s freedom renewed.
It takes me to a place where
The solace drops right through…”
I reach over and push my fingers under her blanket to find her hand, her willowy, soft, pale hand. I take it, and as she sleeps, she takes my hand. In a second, she turns her head without opening her eyes.
“Where are we?” she asks, almost whispering.
“About an hour from Cuervo,” I say. She smiles, remembering in her half-sleep state a place we once visited, Cuervo, New Mexico.
She goes back to sleep. I find myself blinking back a tear. This moment together is so perfect in it’s intimacy, it’s simplicity, it’s identity. I cherish it, breathe it in, memorize it. I don’t know, after all, if it might be our last chance, our last dance. There is nothing I want more than her soft hand in mine, in a quiet moment in eastern New Mexico, with the wild road in front of us, and I don’t want it to end. Ever.
I see that she is asleep again. I look over my shoulder to see our Chihuahuas, Max and Sierra, are also asleep.
All morning long we chatted happily as home fell farther behind us. By noon we were in the Texas panhandle. By 2 p.m., we were in the mesalands of New Mexico. By sunset, we hoped to be in Santa Fe for the night.
I shift in my seat as another 400 miles of trucks and blowing sand and black coffee await. She shifts in response, and I watch as she pulls her newly-bought cowboy hat down to the bridge of her nose to keep out the sunlight streaming through the windshield. I lift my hand and place it on top of her blanket, and feel how warm the sun has made it.
45 minutes later, I hear her say, “Hi.” She stretches and yawns and looks back at the dogs.
“Are you hungry?” I ask.
“Yes, what do you want?” she asks back.
“A veggie burger sounds good,” I tell her. “Honey, do you remember your first veggie burger?”
She smiles. I knew she would. On our first vacation together, The High Road, we rode the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway to the landing on the crest of the mountain, then hiked for another mile to the restaurant at the very top. She only revealed to me very recently that by the time we got to the restaurant, she was famished. We both got veggie burgers, fries and iced tea.
Some memories never fade.
By the time we rolled into Santa Fe after dark, tired and dusty from the road, we stopped in the breezeway of our hotel and paused. We looked at each other.
When everything else is busy and rough and noisy, she is quiet. She is the quiet at the end of every day. She is the quiet at the end of every road.