Let me take you on the journey…
My pupils dilate, my stomach clenches, and my face breaks into an involuntary grin as I reach out for the volume dial…
Something happens to me then. And each turn of the volume dial soon seems insufficient, and I keep reaching to turn it up again. The music is swamping me, taking me over – I can feel the rhythm vibrating through the car, through my whole body. My hands are drumming frantically on the steering wheel, trying to keep time. I know I’m being an asshole because the cars all around me can hear the pounding music, but it’s in my brain, and I just can’t stop…
Then the song ends. And the silence is jarring.
But wait, this is a radio for crying out loud – there has to be something else good on, somewhere. And so I’m back into the search.
YESS! I’ve got a good one. Up goes the volume again, and my concerns about being an asshole fade into the distant recesses of my mind as the dirty, thundering rhythms wash over me, bring a curtain of haze over my mind. Thinking stops. Considering stops. I stop. All that matters is the music. As loud as possible, rolling through the car, pouring into my ears and filling my head. I’m dancing in my seat, driving faster and faster (with only a tiny portion of me keeping an eye on the speedometer, feeding messages of safety and circumspectness to the rest of me…) never wanting this to stop.
Yet because it’s the radio, and songs don’t last forever, it inevitably does. And then a wait before another slice of dark beauty begins.
Pure notes like oxygen precede the rest, dragging me willingly down into the depths of another time-out from reality, from the roads. I’ve never been to a rave (partly because I’m too scared of being illegal, partly because drugs aren’t my scene (nor herpes, which I hear on authority gets shared liberally on the free-for-all water bottles), and partly because I’m just not cool enough to go) but in my mind, I’m there, in the midst of the dance floor, thrashing away, rising and falling and moving as one with an amorphous, anonymous throng of people, all lost in the music, and displaying it as violently as the sound requires.
And the vision melts, and it’s like a physical pain. I want it back. So I channel-surf again, clicking through and through and through; needing my fix.
And there it is – I can breathe again
The vision returns, and the frantic drumming, and the fast driving, and the breathing in and out with the music, feeling it swirl through my veins – exciting, energising, making me want to scream, dance or punch things. None of this allowed whilst in my car, so I settle for the milder head-nodding, whilst going absolutely mental in my imagination.
But the end is in sight. I’m nearly home. I nearly have to return from my car-rave to ‘normal life’, where the music is quiet and in moderation. Dancing is silly, but never frantic, never stuff I disappear into.
Surely there’s time for one more? If I can just find a channel playing the right kind of…got it.
Volume right up this time, so it almost hurts my ears; so high the music barely makes sense, just the pounding rhythms and notes flooding into that tiny space of my car, flowing through the bodywork, tangible through the seat and steering wheel and pedals – I am a part of this.
My final hit.
It takes me higher than the others, on the back of their build-up, I become almost dizzy as I give myself up to it again, lights flashing in my imagination, the darkness of the world taking over and reducing to the reality of the song; the tunnel vision in my mind narrowing out all but the most auto-pilot of functions (yeah, like driving…) and I pull into my road, not caring that I might disturb the neighbours, and park, turning off the headlights, but keeping the engine running until every last note has been absorbed.
Then it’s really over.
I turn the radio off, turn the engine off, and take a few deep breaths to try to come back into the real world. Back into the light and scope of normal life, where the music is never strong enough to reach inside me and journey me away.
But there’s always next time…