He headed south on Business 71 towards Fayetteville. I didn’t know where we were headed, and I didn’t much care. I’d gotten out for the day, I had nowhere to be and no one to take care of but myself. It was hot, the windows were down. I had my feet up on the dusty dash, leaving my shoes in the floorboard of the truck. Natalie Merchant was playing on the radio.
We ended up at some hole in the wall place that he had heard of from a friend of a friend. I had no idea when he had gone there before but they seemed to know him like family. He was always taking me to places like that. Rarely did we hit a big chain anything. It was always something one of a kind.
To this day when I hear Natalie Merchant or a song that refers to summer and feet on the dashboard, I think of that day. I think of the coffee shop down on Dixon we headed to, where I had my first melting snowball. I ordered it just for the title, it turned out to be a scoop of ice cream in a mug of hot chocolate. I was intimidated by all the coffee kinds and names and had no idea what they were. He had a way of exposing me to things I’d never heard of like that, music, coffee, theories about theology and life and kharma. Each date was some kind of low-key adventure.
It wasn’t meant to work out between us. It sizzled, then it got complicated then it just faded away. We enjoyed it for what it was and we both left it changed.
It’s what I think of when I hear Natalie Merchant or a song that refers to feet on the dashboard.