A Fire Inside

Getting into my car, I had thrown my bag onto the passenger seat, closed the door and started the ignition before the full weight of the heat hit me. I exhaled, trying to keep the heavy air from working its way through me and turning my blood to molasses. So, Summer, I thought. It comes to this.

I may have been born in this desert, but I am a creature of the rain.

Except for that one summer when the beating of the sun was like the beating of my heart, and I briefly understood.

It was the end of summer. Late August. Early September perhaps.

We were in our mid-twenties. That perfect time of youthful possibility, and capable freedom. We had to act. We always had to act, Pam and I. We were always feeling that pinch, as though life was water in our cupped hands. If we didn't drink it fast enough, it would trickle through our fingers and be lost.

And so we jumped into Pam's sleek sports car and sped across I-15, flying south against the winter that threatened to seep around the cracks in our resolve.

My mountains gave way to the red deserts of Southern Utah. Then Nevada. The air conditioner was broken, so we rode with the windows down. The hot Nevada air punched against us, making our long hair whip free around our heads. Red and gold.

Pam said, "I love this song!" and cranked up the radio. AFI's Silver and Cold cut through the wind and the heat, and Pam sang the words loud and strong. I have always loved Pam's voice - ever since I heard her sing in our sixth grade play. This has always made her laugh, convinced that her voice is nothing special. It may not be showy, but it is heartbreakingly honest.

Your sins into me, oh my beautiful one!

I soon got the hang of the song and joined my voice to the sing-yelling that tensed our bodies with the effort of our enthusiasm. We screamed out to the desert air, to the lizards and the wild saguaro, to anything that might catch a piece of our souls.

You in somber resplendence I hold.

"What is that song?" I asked, breathless.

"AFI," she said. "Stands for A Fire Inside."

And that's what we felt as we cut accross the heat and the sand racing toward that make-believe horizon. The flame. That deep, delicious burning contained within our skin.

I was erupting with it. I wanted to grab fistfulls of my windblown hair and scream, howl with the knowlege that the world - in its entirety - belonged to me.

Instead, I looked out accross the saguaros as we sped past, leaving a smoking trail of red-white dust that reminded me of wild horses, and said, "You know, we could do anything."

Pam smiled, calm - but I saw that fire burning there behind her eyes. "Yeah, I know."

And as we fell into a heavy, expansive, desert night kind of quiet, we silently became each other's Keeper of the Flame. Our job simply being to remind each other that we can do anything, and to make sure that fire is still burning.


MikkSolo said...

Beautiful! Yes, I'm still up too!


Grandpa Rusty said...

You brought me into the car with you, a speck of dust on the dashboard to see and hear all.

Thank you.

Pamela said...

Thanks, Steph! You brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my fire inside!