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Last drive with Mom

On a completely unextraordinary evening one June, my mother accidentally drove me to Pennsylvania. This was around the time I entered my teens, when I realized how my mother was different, when I no longer wanted to talk to her about anything. She and I developed a new tradition then, in which we would get in her car and drive from D.C. out to rural Maryland, out to the countryside. From there we would let ourselves get completely lost. The only navigational rule was that we had to follow the sun, to drive in its direction as far as we could until it was completely below the horizon. There was nothing metaphorical about it; we simply wanted to see the sunset for as long as we could.

We wound up in a parking lot in Bedford, Pa., one night, sitting in my mother’s silver car, with its floor of used tissues and empty coke bottles. This was several years after she hired a homeless woman to come clean the house whenever we could no longer see the carpet (I watched Cartoon Network and listened to her cry as she organized the shelves), so the detritus-filled car was truly an extension of home. We sat in silence – our usual, our home base – and watched an unexpected fireworks show from the parking lot at the foot of a mountain. The sun went down.

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