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"How about some Willie?" My dad asked.

"What's a Willie?" 

"Willie Nelson," he said, and lifted the center console to shuffle through a pile of cassette tapes inside. "Is a country singing legend ."

I will always remember the sound that it made when my dad shuffled through his tapes. Their clear plastic cases, which held the the album art, with the cassettes inside. Some cassettes had their cases, and some didn't, but each cassette tape was held together by five tiny aluminum screws and had two, pegged, circular-spools, with a magnetic coated polyester film pulled tight around each, able to be fed forward and back.  

The memory of that sound reminds me of my dad's car, and a time before cellphones and streaming music. It was a time when just being in my car with my dad was an adventure. We were on our way to the big mountains, and it was just the two of us. I sat next to the window in the back seat, on the passenger side, so my dad could see me in the rearview mirror. 

Or sometimes, like when he found his Willie tape, he turned to look at me with a smile. He turned back to drive, held the tape up and waved it in the air like you would if you'd found a $100 bill. He slid the tape into the tape deck, and it made a sound like most cassette tapes made when they began. Some type of audio test, "bu-bu-bu-bu-bleep," and then came Willie.

"On the road again

Just can't wait to get on the road again

The life I love is making music with my friends."

My dad looked at me in the rearview mirror and I could tell he was still smiling. 

"Seein' things that I may never see again

And I can't wait to get on the road again,"

"Better than the news?" he asked.

"Yeehaw!" I shouted, feeling it was an appropriate response to Willie's country ballad. My dad turned it up and Willie continued.

"We were the best of friends

Insisting that the world keep turning our way

And our way

on the road again,

Just can't wait to get on the road again."

By the time we got to the city the darkness was receding and the precursor to daylight was seeing the sky behind the mountains becoming gray.

"Why didn't you tell me last night we were going?" I asked my dad.

"We wanted to surprise you." My dad said. 

"I would have been surprised last night too if you told me."

"That's why you mother didn't want me to tell you."

"She didn't want me to go?" I was confused. 

"No, she wanted you to go, but we were worried if we told you that you would get too excited to sleep."

"It's a good surprise." I said.

"Good, I'm glad" my dad said. He turned and smiled at me, "Want some coffee?"

"No thanks, coffee is gross." My nose automatically scrunched up. 

"You'll like it one day," he said and put his mug back in the cupholder.

"Yeah I'll probably like to drink it when I'm listening to the news." I said sarcastically. My dad laughed and we went back to listening to Willie's country twang. The car was warm and my seat began to feel very comfortable. I started taking longer blinks with my eyes until they didn't want to open. My mind eased into a dreamy state, but, by the way I reacted to what happened next, I couldn't have been asleep very long.

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