During our college years, H and I lived in a medium sized rural town, at least in the 1980s. Now it's home to nearly a half million residents that commute to the Bay Area.
Back then, once you hit the end of town, it was farm land as far as the eye could see.
Often H and I would take long lazy drives out into the country. Usually looking for some peace and quiet away from the dorms, loud neighbours and frat parties.
We'd often park in wide open fields of farm land, climb thru the sunroof and lay on the roof of the car. The air smelled cleaner out there. Funny but even now I love the smell of dirt mixed with long dry grass.
We'd lay on the car roof and let the sun warm the car and us.
Sometimes during the summer months we'd watch lightening storms off in the distance. Watching the sheets of rain move slowly across the landscape. Marvel as the tall fields of corns would sway back and forth all in unison.
We needed those times to get away and reconnect...feel and watch something real and authentic. I needed it. Moving from the foothills where houses were spread apart by acres to dorm rooms with no privacy was taking its toll on me. It didn't help that my first 3 dorm roommates were all certifiable.
My first roommate was a foreign exchange student from Korea. Within the first month of school she managed to miss nearly 80% of her classes. As I'd take off for my first class of the day, she was usually just coming home from her late night partying. Before I knew it, her parents had yanked her back home to Korea.
She was replaced with another roommate, who 2 months into my second semester stopped talking to me. One day we were all giggles, the next she wouldn't even acknowledge my presence in the room. It's wasn't till years later she told me she had suffered a mental break. I guess not talking for a few months helped her. It made me realize I needed to move across campus into another dorm.
My third and final roommate(then I moved in w/H) was sweet, fun, kind and the biggest coke dealer on our little campus. I really did like her. I didn't however like waking up at 3am in the morning to three people sitting on the end of my bed doing lines. I'm a fairly laid back person but I still like to choose my own bedmates and get a full night of sleep now and then.
I cherished those days H and I would drive out to the country, take a picnic lunch and sleep on the roof in the sun. That little Volvo saw more sex than any other car we've owned since.
Those days helped me keep my sanity. Helped me get through some difficult times during those school years.
Even after we graduated, H and I would take long drives out towards the Sierra mountains. It's one of the few things I miss about that small rural town.
That and the smell of the rain.