I've got a New Yorker cartoon day-by-day calendar. I save the really good ones. I have one from Thursday, February 24 that shows a couple walking down a beach at sunset beneath a sky dotted with fluffy marshmallow clouds. The man is saying, "All right, Stephanie, you win -- it's great to be alive!"
Days like these are what Henry Ford had in mind when he made automobiles available for the Everyman. Just because those old cars couldn't go 74 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone down the yet-uninvented interstate doesn't mean that wasn't what he was shooting for. I don't know what the American Dream really is anymore, but it's gotta include driving fast on a pretty day. Driving fast with the windows down and the music loud, all right, you win, it's great to be alive.
There's a song I've been listening to lately, "Pacific Theme" by Broken Social Scene. Laid-back and cool, it's a good song. But when you play it loud while driving with the windows down, it's a great song. It's an instrumental number and starts out quiet, slowly building up and adding more instruments to the same basic theme each iteration of the tune. First there's some soft percussion, then a surf guitar, then a bass, another guitar. At about the two and a half minute mark, the song breaks into a soft bridge with just the drums and a lone trumpet. You think maybe the song's over, it's getting so quiet. But then, after fouty-five seconds, the original tune comes back again in a fantastic aural climax, this time with all the other instruments plus the trumpet, loud, strong, but still mellow and cool. It has to be the song built of a jam session in somebody's open garage in the summertime. Sun's shining, hanging with your buddies, playing music, all right, you win, it's great to be alive.
I could put this song on repeat during a long trip on a day like today and just relax behind the wheel of my Japanese part of the American Dream. Windows down, my hair pulled back to keep it from getting all nappy in the wind (not that it helps, but who cares?), my left arm out the window catching the breeze in the very model of a driving position I did not learn in Driver's Ed. "Pacific Theme" is playing loudly, because otherwise you can't hear it over the breeze and the engine pushing my car to the limit of the velocity range that I can drive without being pulled over. I feel happy and young. I am young, but now I feel it. All right, you win, it's great to be alive.