a little girl with responsibilities of a co-pilot would not relax on the road. her eyes would look around for danger and for dropping eyelids from the driver. the two countries, connected by a straight road, were one for her. she would not mind or be conscious of different politics, language, culture. the distance that they had to travel could only get shortened by the arrival of the night. back home, in the safe shelter of her radio, she would tune to AM radios in the middle of the night that play tangos and milongas. she had to be discrete though, her sister could not hear the music and her pretend sleep had to be convincing enough for her parents. up to this day, I think her father knew she was awake, as he himself had a troubled relationship with sleep. speaking of which, let me go back to when she would come up with questions to avoid him from falling asleep on the wheel. the road was an indefinite straight line lonely among prairies, no distractions on the continuum, so she herself also would feel asleep. but she wanted to be responsible and contribute to shorten on that distance. going places was magical for her, she would dream about sending messages to strangers and getting answers years later. the strong sense of discovery of new worlds. but I want to go back to the road as I omit one more thing that shorted the distances between those places that she travelled, by car or sound: a common language, I dare to call. as I said, I hardly think she understood there were two languages at play, there was what she would speak, and a different version of it on the songs, but still the same temperature and humidity to it. I keep not telling you the most relevant things for her, pardon my adulthood arrogance. every long while a bus, a truck or a police patrol would pass by them. these were partners in the same loneliness and with the same challenge of shortening the distance. their present would bring her a sense of happiness, camaraderie and excitement. did I say she would travel in the front seat? yes, that was the reality those days in that road. the variations on language that she hardly and festively ignored would be about to completely obliviated when she sight another vehicle in the horizon. her father, maybe, in his own way, celebrated their presence too, but he was a man, and its known in those lands that I man cannot be expressive. or would he, through his hands!
his left hand would trigger the high beams on and off quite fast, while holding to the wheel, while his right hand, the one with only five fingers would be facing the windshield, and a gesture would communicate any relevant information or just a quick hello
she would digest every single bit of information, from the movement of his hand, to similar reactions from the other driver. the other drivers, where they were headed, what they were doing remained a mystery but their reactions were what she would not only wonder, but would take with her.
I travelled with her years ago, same road. She was then driving and loudly singing ‘murgas‘. that day, she understood, to her surprise, enthusiasm and admiration, why the hello gesture was not a wave. two moving vehicles at high speed would not see a moving gesture, so a stationary open palm as a salute would be the best interaction. then, she was not asleep and not lonely.