Night Driving.

I had dinner with six other adults last night at a restaurant beneath a tent. Across the table from me, one man said he didn’t think he’d eaten with that number of people in, well, what seemed like forever.

Ditto, me.

I’d driven down I-91 along the Connecticut River to meet the team at Steerforth Press and talk about my book Unstitched that will be published in a month.

On my way home, I drove out of New Hampshire in the dark that had fallen while we were talking and telling stories. I drove away from the congestion of Dartmouth, and then north again, into the deepness of Vermont. The day was still humid and sticky with summer, and I left the windows open, while I listened to The New Yorker‘s Atul Gawande talk about the Delta Variant.

I remembered driving in the dark in my mid-twenties, alone, over the Continental Divide. At the top, I parked and stretched. Although it was summer then, too, the elevation’s chill made me shiver in my t-shirt and shorts. In the women’s room, drying my hands under a stream of hot air, I chatted with an elderly woman. Where she was going, and what she was doing, I’ve long since forgotten, but I remember stepping outside the little building with her and admiring the stars.

So many years later, I sped through the warm and velvety night.

At home, my daughters had left the little string of lights on in the living room, and the back porch lamp glowed. Our house, freshly painted white, glimmered a little as the clapboards rose above the woodpile and purple echinacea. The cats sat at the door, watching moths, or maybe waiting for me.

A few minutes early to New Hampshire yesterday, I walked through a park and discovered a community garden devoted almost exclusively to flowers. A woman and her dog paused and watched me admire the blossoms. The poodle suddenly stood up on its hind legs and barked a hello. I laughed. The woman nodded. Then she went her way, and I went mine.

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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