Betty didn’t have to ask us twice.
If Betty didn’t want to sit at home she would ask Pam, her daughter, and I to drive her around. Pam was 15, I was 14. Betty would climb in the backseat of that little green Maverick and let Pam drive and let me ride shotgun. Betty just wanted to go.
Pam may have been only 15 but living in the country she’d been driving for years. Those country roads were good for that.
We would turn on the radio, windows down if it was warm enough or heater blasting if it was cold enough. And we would drive those back country roads.
Betty would sit in the back quietly, or letting Pam and I carry the conversation she would add whatever she wanted. And it would be wonderfully colorful. If we were singing, she may have been singing with us. I don’t remember her ever telling us to be quiet.
I don’t remember all of the roads we drove on. But I knew the feel of them. The comfort of being on them and being safe. I would know those roads today. If I went back, I would be transported not by distance but by time. There were pine trees and hills, barns, houses and shacks. The smell of wood smoke might be heavy in the air, and I learned the difference between coal smoke and wood smoke traveling those roads full of homes staying warm by fire.
I was never a wild, crazy kind of kid. But those nights, with Betty in the backseat, Pam and I heading up and down country roads, I learned a little bit about freedom.