I want to know the touch of my own skin against the sun, against the wind

I’ve watched Lucinda Williams’s 1989 performance of “Side of the Road” hundreds of times. The song is built around a simple metaphor: Williams is driving down the road with a loved one, and happy to be driving. Still, she wants to pull over to the side of the road and stand there by herself. “I want to know you’re there, but I want to be alone,” she sings.

If only for a minute or two, I want to see what it feels like to be without you.
I want to know the touch of my own skin
Against the sun, against the wind.

I walked out in a field, the grass was high, it brushed against my legs.
I just stood and looked out at the open space, and a farmhouse out a ways.
And I wondered about the people who lived in it,
And I wondered if they were happy and content.
Were there children, and a man and a wife?
Did she love him and take her hair down at night?

If I stray away too far from you, don’t go and try to find me.
It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it doesn’t mean I
won’t come back and stay beside you.
It only means I need a little time
To follow that unbroken line,
To a place where the wild things grow,
To a place where I used to always go.

~ Lucinda Williams, Side of the Road

~ Joshua Rothman