My wife and I spent much of the last week on the road. We went from New York City to Newport, Rhode Island; then went up to Boston(-ish) to pick up our son from his summer program; back down to New York. So we had several extended drives where we were alone in the car (or with a sleeping kid, who had stayed up till 2 AM with his friends and could barely put two words together).
We were around 45 minutes from the Henry Hudson Parkway on the way home when we turned on the radio for the first time—and then only to listen to the traffic report. We hadn’t intended to have a non-radio-oriented trip, but it happened.
If you knew me at, really, any time of my life, this would seem really weird and out of character. I’ve been a DJ, an inveterate mixtape creater, and never without music. If I knew during college that I was going to have 10 hours in a car, I would have made seven mixes with different themes, each with a name describing, say, the counties I wanted to be in while the mix was playing. (Yes, I was impossible.) Not making any mixes—or even putting on the radio to see what is hot on campuses in, say, Connecticut—would have been inconceivable.
Amanda and I remarked on the silence of our trip—and, in fact, how welcome it was. Our lives are so hectic, so filled with voices, with ambient noise, that without thinking of it we used our trip to decompress, to detox ourselves. We solved assorted problems in our lives; organized our autumn a bit; thought about what we needed to do to help our kids. We didn’t need to sing along to Vampire Weekend or Steely Dan or the Pogues or whatever. We got to reconnect and reset ourselves, and to have a little quiet for ourselves. And it was good.