I used to drive left handed. I don’t know if I drove this way because I learned to drive on a manual and needed the right hand to shift, or if this is a habit I developed later. I know that in the Camry, the space between the seat and the window and the steering wheel was the perfect distance for me to wedge the groove in the bottom of my elbow joint into the windowsill and rest my hand on the steering wheel. Most of the time, that meant that my right hand was available for things like snacks. But when I was driving and Jason was riding, it usual meant my right hand was available to hold his.
In the Prius, I drive right handed. The distance is wrong on the left side, or maybe the windowsill is a little more curved. Either way, I can’t get my elbow wedged in there and it slips off and drags my hand down. Instead, I drive with my right hand low on the wheel and my left hand leaning on the windowsill.
It isn’t a big deal. It isn’t some earth-shattering change. Not really. But I notice it. I notice when I reach for the granola bar in the glove compartment, or when I want to change the music. But mostly I notice it by the absence of reaching across the center console.
Holding hands over the center console of a car is cute and romantic and really kind of awkward. The angle is weird and one person’s wrist always ends up bent funny. But we did. Or rather, Jason did. He’d reach across to put his hand on my thigh. Sometimes he’d snag my hand and bring it back to the middle, sometimes he’d leave his hand in my lap. If I reached over first, he’d always look sideways at me and smile.
It is easy to see the big things – the future we don’t have, the house I may not be able to keep, the trips we’ll never take together – but the day to day is wearying in a different way. I live in the day to day. I have to live breath by breath, and each of those breaths are full of absence.