The hills of Terwood Road are as short-lived as they are exhilarating. Rolling past empty farmland and under open sky, the narrow stretch of pavement is quickly swallowed up by forest and muted civilization. Even as child in the back seat of an onyx green minivan, I treasured those hills. I made a space for them in my heart since I was utterly unaware of their place on a map. That seemed like the best place for them. I swore when I was old enough, I would coast over them once more.
Everything seems bigger as a child, doesn’t it? The gym at Meadowbrook elementary once stretched for what seemed like miles of hardwood floor. Now, on the rare occasion that I return, I feel cramped. As if it weren’t me who was growing, but rather the world around me that was shrinking. The smaller everything became, the more I worried this shift in space would, in time, affect the hills of Terwood.
When I first sat in my first car one thing stood out. My legs fit. It was one of the few criteria I had when it came transportation of any kind. Perhaps, I thought, gripping the steering wheel of my silver Chevy, since the car wasn’t with me as a child it hadn’t been affected by the ever-shrinking world. The four-door flew over the asphalt, pushing my father and the car salesman into their seats. I became one with the Chevy and the seat in which I’d spend the next 17,000 miles. My heart skipped in my chest. The feeling transported me to those moments on Terwood Road and I longed to be there.
Much later, armed with a driver’s license and GPS I found my way back. I tracked the
mile-long stretch down and found it nestled in a forest not far from that elementary school gym. Both must be miniscule in size, I thought at the time.
The trick to Terwood is finding a pocket in the flow traffic in which you can command the asphalt at your leisure. Accelerate, brake, or glide as you see fit. I discovered that it’s not an easy trick. Often times our favorite things aren’t ours alone. We may have our own memories, but we are forced to share the object of them with others who cherish them just as deeply. That day however, my luck was buttered. As if it weren’t enough that I had my cake, I was about to eat it too.
My favorite road lay empty before me.
The scene was unfamiliar to my eyes, but in my heart I knew I had arrived. That child in the back of the minivan hadn’t quite been able to look out the window, only able to see an expanse of blue sky as the car seesawed. He couldn’t stare across the stretch of farmland, or the wooden fence that contained it. No idea when each gut-wrenching dip or rise was coming. He didn’t even know when it would begin or when it would end. He only knew that he’d return.
I sat in the seat of my first car, older but still wide eyed. My mind locked on an image of how the road might look. Unexciting and unimportant were the words that scared me most.
My foot pressed on the gas and the first hill zoomed closer. The horizon was only ten feet in front of me and as the nose of my car teetered over the crest, the world unfolded. Terwood Road was unchanged by time. Yet, in that mile, a lifetime is lived.
Editor’s note: This story is part of our October 2016 series ‘Hundreds of Words about My First Car’
Josh is a copywriter looking to dive into the advertising industry. He bleeds Eagles green, so he’s used to disappointment. Find out more about Josh at his aptly named website, www.joshholin.com
Read Hundreds of Words by Josh Holin here.