Two weeks ago, during the holiday hubbub, I had plans to meet up with a group of friends for dinner. I was on my way to the restaurant, at a full stop in bumper to bumper traffic. It was dark outside, but white Christmas light twinkled on the bushes and wreaths with red bows adorned the streetlamps. I had the radio turned up, and Diana Krall’s contralto voice implored me to peel her a grape.
And I thought, “I miss my commute.”
I turned down the radio and shook my head, surprised by my thought.
A little background: For the first ten years of my working life, I drove into my downtown Pittsburgh office each day, spending fifty minutes one way in the car. About two years ago, I started a new job at an office fifteen minutes from my house.
Fifteen minutes through backroads. No stoplights, no traffic, rarely any accidents. After ten years fighting all of this on a daily basis, the commute is bliss. It’s hands down the best perk of my current job. I’m fond of telling anyone who will listen that while I miss working downtown, I never miss driving downtown.
This is all true.
So why did I suddenly long for my commute?
Because there is something magical about driving alone at night. At that moment, no one in the world knew exactly where I was. There was nothing to do wait for the car in front of me to move and listen to the music.
Not listen and cook, or listen and scrub the bathtub, or listen as I rushed out the door.
I heard every word, every crack of Ms. Krall’s voice, every note on the piano and the bass.
And it was a moment of perfect contentment.
So while I am happy for an extra hour every workday, I rarely find a better way to spend it than listening to good music in the dark.
And I miss that.