My bright pink stiletto manicure always contrasted your never cut nails that sometimes left tiny marks in my hand when you held it. You always wanted our melded hands in your lap as your drove along the coast, but I always wanted them in mine. My arm would get so sore, digging into the consul as it tried to get as close to you as possible. I didn’t care as long as I could feel the tender warmth of your protective grasp.
There were moments when I would let go, just for a second to take a sip of my blueberry bubble tea or to capture the sun setting over the angry waves on the shoreline with my iPhone, and you would instantly reach back over, taking my tiny hand back into your possession. You loved the way that I squeezed you just a little bit harder when we were on dirt roads and hit the bumps, and I loved it when you looked over at me with your half smile when I tried to be funny.
You lovingly hated my feet on your dash after a long night walking the streets of Wynwood in my heels, and despised the sand that would collect on your floor when we got out to collect shells at the beach for our shared mason jar. And how I turned the radio up a little louder when we broached a subject I didn’t want to discuss.
Then there were the fights that exploded inside your car that brought only darkness. We were trapped, black mascara staining my cheeks and a flush of red consuming yours. You almost drove into the Jersey barrier on I-95 once, mixed emotions of hatred and misunderstanding overtaking the steering wheel.
And then one day, I had my last ride in your passenger seat. You held my hand a little tighter, to the point it was turning purple due to lack of circulation. I was practicing my interview questions, as I watched the passing palm trees and familiar art deco buildings on the way to the airport, nervous about the all day interview I had the next day in a state far away from you. We got stuck in awful traffic and I was minutes away from missing my flight. Without thinking, I let go for the last time.
Do you still look over on a random drive down US-1 and expect to see me there? Does my ghost haunt you on your way to the movie theater, giggling as I try to find a place in my dress to hide my Lemonheads and Diet Cherry Coke? Are our white, broken shells still in your extra cup holder? Are our polaroids from our road trips still on your dash? What about the one of me inside of the giant orange parade float at the farmer’s market right off of the turnpike? I was so happy that day.