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Animals: Reflecting on the First Half Hour of A Four Hour Car Ride with A Group of Strangers



Joined: 4/23/2015
Posts: 1
malbs
It’s 12:15 and I’m sitting in the car with these people I met fifteen minutes ago. We’ve had a few awkward silences- lapses where no one speaks and the moment passes while we all desperately cut into ourselves to search for conversation topics. This is one of these moments where those Table Topics cards your grandma got you for Christmas, with blasé questions, such as “Name your favorite board-game”, could really come in handy. The moments pass in stutters, the same way a scratched CD suddenly stops blaring and chokes before resuming. There are four of us in the car, five if you count the cat. Oh, the cat. They ask me if I like cats, but of course I don’t want to say no I actually hate cats to these people who have kindly offered to give me a space in their car as we drive down to Virginia, because I know that if it comes down to me- a stranger- or the fat, beloved cat, they’ll pick the cat. So instead, I say yes, yes I love cats, and it’s smiles and sighs and relief, but the cat smells my lies and snaps at me when I try to pet him. His name is Louis and I want to ask them if this is after King Louis the Fat, but what do I know? Perhaps all the cats around here look like regular Taco Bell customers. After all, we are in America.

It’s 12:24 and I’m still struggling with this thing called conversation. I’ve never been
so good at it with people I’ve just met, or really just people in general. I swear I hear the silence laughing at me. Maybe it’s just the cat.

It’s 12:27 and I’m just dandy. We’re still doing this talking thing and it’s going pretty well. We find common interests and shared histories and funny anecdotes and it’s all just great. The lively conversation lends me enough ease to let myself relax for a moment, but as soon as I do the awkward silence returns. But it feels so good to release the tension in my body, to stop trying and let my bones go soft and my muscles unravel, so I don’t try anymore. I stop trying to pull conversation out of my mouth and squeeze interest out of my eyes. I find peace with the silence and I turn my body to look out the window.

It’s 12:40 and we’re out of the residential DC area and on the highway. I see green, lots of green. It’s pretty, but also suffocating, as if these green hills are actually green waves and this whole place is flooded and we can’t breathe.

Also, where are all the cows?

It’s 12:45 and there is a surplus of green, an absence of cows and consequently, looking out the windows proves not so fun. The cat is still glaring at me.
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