Journal, Parenting

One-Quarter

Most of the time, I listen to NPR while driving around town or going to work. On rare occasions, I might get fed up with the news and listen to our local classical station. It tends to soothe the savage beast, or so I hear.

Other times, I’ll roll the windows down and blare Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, or any number of other bands I have on CD. Yeah, I still listen to CDs. But only in my car. It helps me feel like it’s 1996, and I’m in high school. Back then, I thought I was a pretty cool dude.

Things have changed a little bit.

I was fortunate enough to welcome a healthy baby girl into my life about half a year ago. It’s been great. I’ve loved it, even though I’m getting a little less sleep and my free time has taken a definitive hit. Now, in addition to music and talk radio, I’m driving around with a baby seat in the back seat. We’ve set it up with a mirror so I can keep an eye on her.

A few months ago, I was driving down the highway, doing about 75 mph, and listening to the radio. It was a warm day and the perfect time to listen to a little music. So, “Sympathy for the Devil” started pouring from my factory speakers, and I began rolling the windows down.

I noticed very quickly that rolling all of the windows down meant that the mirror I’d installed in front of our car seat started to vibrate–not violently, but enough that it might loosen and have to be repositioned, which isn’t a one-person job. It’s hard to get the angle right with just one person.

I rolled up a window and checked the rearview mirror again. The baby mirror was still shaking. I rolled up both windows on the passenger side. No change. So, I rolled up the rear window on the driver’s side. That worked. No more shaking, but my first thought was to question whether or not this meant I was one-quarter the dude I used to be. I only had one window rolled down, and I’m a “windows down kind of guy.”

I don’t want to sound diluted, but I think I can still be sort of a dude. I was able to listen to the song even if I had to make sure the volume was way down when I parked. I turned the volume down because little ears were going to be in the back seat, again, very soon.

photo: Dan Sealey

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Justin Meckes is a writer and filmmaker living in Durham, NC. His stories have been published in various online journals and magazines. He has ghostwritten a sci-fi novel and is the author of several children's books. You can reach him by sending an email to contact@justinmeckes.com.