Riding in Cars Alone–Laura E. Bailey


Rite of passage:  learner’s permit, tense lessons from a parent, afterschool drivers’ ed class with gory crash movies as cautionary tales.

Escape chariot:  ditching fifth period physics to join an overloaded Chevy convertible on an illicit supply mission to Sonic.

Badge of adulthood:  insurance payments, lease-vs-buy, first addictive hit of that new car smell, fender-bender, which alternate-side-parking day is it today?

Theme song of ups-&-downs:  new job, new town, new place … disappointment, promotion denied, heartbroken … new car = turn the page.

Emblem of guilt:  guzzler of fossil fuels, nationalist cliché, saving up the dough to make the virtuous shift to a quieter cleaner high.

But more than all that, always & forever:  the windows down and the music on as loud as the speakers will handle without making that buzzy-grinding shriek, off the beaten track, country lane, swooping curves or a straightaway, singing at the top of my lungs, just me and the road, alone.


Laura E. Bailey is celebrating 20(!) years since she discovered the magic that is Manzanita, and settled in to this creative spot with her dog Bruce. Her fiction, essays, and poetry can be found in RAIN, CIRQUE, the North Coast Squid, and the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.