In the winter when I was nine years old, my family drove to my maternal grandmother’s place for the first time. Her house was a little far away from my hometown, so, my mother and I usually travelled there by trains. But that year, my parents decided that we would try driving there for the first time. This way, the travelling would be cheaper for all three of us, and moreover, we could enjoy some long-distance road trip.
We hit the road on the day after Christmas. My mother was the driver, my father was the copilot/navigator with maps (it was long time before smartphones and car navigation systems), and I was the person in the backseat, whose job was to enjoy the scenery from the window and occasionally distribute food and snacks to the front seats.
At the time, my mother drove an old second-hand Toyota Corolla. The car was already several years old when it came to my family, and even though it was originally designed as a deluxe edition and had a great interior design, due to the old age, its power was quite limited. As soon as we got on the highway, my mother pushed on the gas hard so that our car could catch up with the rest of the crowd.
We mostly drove at 90 km per hour. But occasionally, when we needed to go on the fast lane to take over another car in front of us, the speed was increased. The moment we hit 100 km per hour, however, a gentle bell sound rang from the car system, letting us know that we were going too fast. Our car was from that ancient time when people still drove under 100 even on the highway! The bell made us eager to go back to the slow lane, to the peace and safety of 90. Once back to 90, I heaved a sigh of relief and looked at the cars on the other lane which were going much faster than us, wondering how on earth they could go so fast ignoring the sound of bell in their cars.
After about four hours on highway, we went down on the local roads to continue our journey to my grandmother’s house. By then, the winter sun had started setting, and as we drove through an industrial town, the yellow sunlight shone through the window.
As I looked out, I saw the shadow of our car moving on the road next to us. In the shadow, there were also windows, and I saw my silhouette in one of them. When I waved at her, my shadow also waved back at me. The shadow of the car and the girl drove on merrily in the amber sunlight until we entered an area with many buildings, and it disappeared. I felt happy that our road trip was not yet over, and that we still had a few hours to go.
We arrived at my grandmother’s house after the dusk. Everybody came out of the house to celebrate our successful arrival, making us feel as if we were celebrity. Just before getting off the car and joining everybody else, however, I thought back on the thrill I experienced on the highway and the magical sunset I witnessed on the road. And I quickly collected them into the treasure box of my memories before any detail of its beauty was lost.