I was driving into work, the defroster melting the last bits of frost from the windshield, and the sun shining from the east as if to further the process along. I rode in silence, the air so cold my eyes watered. My mind was blank, deliciously so. I watched the blur through the window, happy to be awake.
Quietly I began to think about setting an intention for the day. I felt sheepish, what good could setting an intention do anyway. I make lists all the time, the writing of the items doesn’t make them get done any quicker, if anything it just feels as if it puts my failure to finish in bold.
An intention, Amanda. What is my intention?
I licked my lips and drummed my fingers along the steering wheel. “My intention,” I whispered as I tapped the palm of my hand on the wheel. “My intention is to be positive. No. My intention is to start positive things. I mean, I will say things that will create new things. I will let the pessimistic commentary be removed from my thoughts.”
As I said the words, though I can’t recall if I said them aloud in the car or in my mind, I began to feel less awkward. I worked through setting an intention that was neither too vague nor to specific and reaching. I nodded and looked out toward the sun. I saw a truck coming.
It was a faded, old F-250. The original blue of the paint was so faded it was nearly white. As it came closer I saw that the passenger seat was empty. There was a person sitting next the driver. I squinted and saw that it was a woman sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the driver. She was in her late fifties or early sixties. The sun shone behind her, I could see her short hair had a slight bed-head quality. They both wore heavy work coats and flannels.
I wondered if they were listening to music, or maybe the news. As our cars came closer I leaned in to get more of the story, sitting so close I imagined they had to be a couple. They looked quiet, morning silence. Their heads both tilted slightly toward the driver side door. I’d guess he was the same age as she was. The truck passed over a bump in the road and they bobbled back and forth in unison. Just as our cars passed, she leaned her head lightly on his shoulder.
I tried looking back once, but all I saw were tail lights.
I drove into the sun thinking about bench seats and marriage; the middle seat gets relegated to overcrowded cars or lovesick teenagers. Marriage is pressed into an assumption of fading, the vibrant colors and passion of courtship muted like exterior paint unprotected from the elements. The dings and scratches we accumulate making us somehow less deserving of something candy apple red.
There’s nothing stopping us from sliding across the bench seat and sitting so close that our legs touch. No amount of years passing can erase the thrill of an unexpected touch, peeking at him in profile, or seeing the curve of bottom lip you’ve gently nipped at the end of a kiss. Feeling desired as his hand traces a circle on the upholstery next to him, “Come here, I want you close.”
Faded paint has an allure, as do the slightly different lines on the body of the truck, so distinct from the ubiquity of SUVs and crossovers. The stories it must have, the rules that have been broken, and the times that despite not being new, it’s done the job better than anything else around. Songs are written about old trucks and promises are made and kept in the,.
I kept that truck, and its cozy passengers, in my mind. I stuck to my intention. Just like the initials I found carved on a playground, I would accept the invite of bench seats, and remember that what we began more than 15 years ago was not a fade to black. It was the first, bold brush stroke and the colors are, forevermore, ours to choose.