Sometimes when I drive home, I pull the car close to the curb on the street outside my building, shift it into park, and just sit there.
I hang the parking permit from the rear view mirror.
I turn off the headlights.
I leave my foot on the brake.
And I just sit there, waiting. I watch the blinking red light on the dashboard, with the steady red glow of my brake lights reflecting off the nose of the car behind me.
Sometimes, the radio is playing, and I'm dipping my hand repeatedly into a bag of snacks. Snacks somehow taste better when eaten in the front seat of my car - traveling on a road trip, or just sitting parked outside my apartment, not wanting to go inside.
Sometimes, I hold my cell phone in my lap, turning its screen into my lap so as not to illuminate my face to passers-by. Because I'm just sitting there, maybe snacking.
I can't snack all night in the car. At some point, I have to stop, and go upstairs. I snack in the car because, unlike snacking in bed, it must stop there. I cannot fall asleep there, amidst the snacks.
I don't want to go inside.
The car is off, but the brake lights are still on. My foot is pressing down, but I don't want to stay.
On occasion, I have parked my car outside of my apartment building, participated in this ritual, and then turned the car back on and headed somewhere else, wiping the flavor dust from the snacks on my car seat or my jeans or my skirt or my bare legs. I leave the snack bag open on the floor of the passenger's side, hoping its contents will become stale so I won't want to eat any more.
But on a night like tonight, with no snacks, no radio, and nowhere to go, I just sit, marveling at the near-silence, the muted tones of few cars drifting by, in one direction or another. The street is dim. The businesses are closed. The dogs are walked. And I am just as alone in that car as I am in my apartment.
So I might as well go where I can sleep.
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