William’s Honda Pilot is packed full of his necessities. Golf balls roll around the trunk, and they collide with luggage. The bike is strapped to a rack, its tires dance in the headwind as the car drives north on I-75. He is a snowbird, coming home for spring.
The packed car is home, because he has no other. He’ll find that in Chicago. The road numbs his mind as he drives past Lake City, Florida and the Ichetucknee Springs river glimmers. He reaches behind the seat for saltines in the crate of snacks. It hides underneath pressed collared shirts and slacks hanging delicately. The retiree wears these clothes less and less, but he still packs them in the car.
The Detroit Tigers play on the radio as he continues to drive north. The metal dumbbells in the back clank together when he slows down to exit for gas. He is in Atlanta, 12 hours left on the road.
William is a widower, a recent widower, an alone widower, but his things in the car keep him company. He has unloaded and packed them many times, renting condos and town homes in Florida. Now, he’ll do the same in Chicago, when he buys a home and unpacks them for good. Until then, he’ll drive around with a full car; the only vacant space is the driver’s seat. The road is quiet and the car hums softly on the highway all through Tennessee.
The Tigers win the ballgame as he crosses the Indiana state line. He looks in the rearview mirror at the boxes packed neatly, blocking his view of the road. Boxes full of books, family photos and keepsakes stare back at him. He thinks of his deceased wife and the road trips they used to take together.
Then, the sign approaches: “The People of Illinois Welcome You.” He feels appreciated and accepted in this state, and it becomes home again. The Honda Pilot will drive past familiar landmarks and memories. It will remind him of a life he once lived and he grips the steering wheel tight.
He grows weary and pulls into a Holiday Inn just a few miles away from the old house. His things will sit in the car overnight, and wait for tomorrow, hoping for a new home.