17 hours

Did I ever tell you about the time I listened to the same ten songs on repeat for 17 hours?

You either have to be crazy to do this or completely indifferent, and I might have been both at the same time.

Here's what I know though: it takes 17 hours to get over a broken heart if the soundtrack is right.

The drive was a familiar one, I'd done it countless times during my years living in Tennessee. I would say I could do it in my sleep, but in fact I probably did do it near sleep sometimes. I had it timed to perfection, stopping at all the same gas stations, breathing more easily when I crossed under Halfway Blvd (because it meant it was my halfway point too), knowing how many cups of coffee it took (four grande Starbucks espresso-blend) and at which point I would feel nearest to tears of exhaustion there and back.

This drive and I, we were tight. After the second time I did it, I began to look forward to it. It meant 17 hours of uninterrupted quiet. 17 hours alone. 17 hours of audio books or not. It meant 17 hours to reflect over the past few weeks and the few weeks to come. I began to treasure the drive.

But never was it as healing as it was that trip in January. I left the cold north, crossing borders and mountains, passing giant roadside crosses that signify Bible-Belt territory, back down south where my heart felt its brokenness more tenderly. Back to where everything reminded me that something hadn't worked. Back to where I felt the sting of failure more than I'd ever felt it before. How little I knew about failure at 25 though. (How little I still know.)

I put that cd in and one after another those 10 tracks worked out the kinks in my heart. They massaged the knots and tightened loose screws, they identified fears and roots of fears, they told me to pick up my head, that the end of something good didn't mean the end of everything good.

It was the first time that I took Exit 25 off I75 south that there weren't tears of angst and exhaustion, but tears of healing and finishing.

17 hours is what it takes to heal my broken heart if the soundtrack is right.