Guru Steve's Path To Enlightened Relationships

Mike’s rusty, 2004 Honda Civic was a piece of shit. 

With over 150,000 miles, it was a miracle that it still ran. In fact, Mike was convinced that he could start it underwater. Throughout its life, the Civic had seen its fair share of adventures –– road trips to and from college, the awkward rocking cadence and foggy windows of adolescent sex, spilled McDonald’s fries wedged between the seats after a stoned, late-night bout of munchies, first loves, breakups, jam sessions, teething puppies, etc. Even in its ripe old age, it was nothing less than reliable, albeit beat up. 

Now as the faded rusty facade of what once was trudged along an empty two-lane highway, flanked by Americana fields of nothingness on both sides, Mike couldn’t help but wonder who had aged more - him or the car. After 5+ hours, the roads felt like an endless mirage of farms and cornfields on the horizon. 

Lori, his wife, sat in the passenger seat waving her phone around frantically, trying every possible angle. Their dog, Max, happily panting in the back seat, occasionally sticking his head out the window to let his tongue wag in the breeze. 

“Great. Now I can’t even get a signal,” Lori sighs as she tosses her phone down in frustration. “I told you not to take I-57.” 

“This is how we always go, Lori. What did you want me to do?”

“Maybe listen to me for a change? We should’ve got off two exits ago and now I don’t know where the hell we are.”

“Really? You don’t recognize this random cornfield in the middle of nowhere? Because this one is my favorite. Totally different from all of the others.”

Lori just huffs and returns to scrolling through her phone.

“You know, there was a time when you found my jokes to be quite endearing.”

“Was it two exits ago when we weren’t lost without a signal in the middle of nowhere?”

Max lets out a whiny yawn from the back seat. 

“Everyone’s a critic,” Mike shakes his head. “What’s your rush to get there anyways?”

“Because! I told my mom we’d be there today by 5 pm. All of my aunts and cousins are coming in.”

“Right. So…why are we rushing to get there?”

Lori looks unamused. “That’s nice. Because your family is just perfect in every way right?” 

“No, but we acknowledge how batshit crazy we are and wear it with pride.” 

“Whatever. Can we just find a gas station or something to stop at?”

“Again? Seriously? You just peed like 20 minutes ago.”

“Yes Mike, I’m sorry my small bladder is such a wild inconvenience for you.”

“I’m just saying, it’s been five hours and Max has only peed twice and he’s a dog. You’re easily at six pees.”

“Can you not count my pees, please? Also, maybe not a great move to compare your wife to a dog.”

Mike reaches down into the random mess that occupies his center console and into a cup holder. 

“Here,” he says handing his wife an empty Big Gulp container. “It’s a Big Gulp so aiming shouldn’t be a problem.” 

Lori stares at him in disgust. “Why are you being such an asshole?”

“Geez, I’m just kidding around!”

“You know what? How about you just keep it to yourself for a few miles okay?”

Lori crosses her arms and stares out the window.

“Fine by me.” 

Mike taps his fingers on the worn steering wheel and looks out onto the empty road. The monotony of the landscape is soothing –– almost too soothing and his eyes begin to feel heavy as the Civic drifts onto the gravel shoulder. 

Max lets out a deep bark and Mike’s head bobs up instantly.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Lori cries out.

“Sorry, sorry!” Mike exclaims. “We don’t have to talk, but can we at least put on some music or something?” 

“I told you, I don’t have a signal. I can’t use Spotify.”

“That’s ok because this ol’ gal still has an FM radio.”

Mike flips on the radio and is met with static.

“Hm. That’s not right.” He turns the radio dial but is met with the same white noise across every channel. “Must be a bad signal.” 

“Must be a bad car,” Lori chides. 

“Hey, c’mon. The civic has been with us forever. I picked you up on our first date in this remember?”

“Yes Mike, I remember,” Lori sighs. “I just didn’t think I’d be 30 and still have to sit in a car that smells like stale Cheetos and Phish.” 

Mike knew she wasn’t wrong but it didn’t make the insult sting any less. However, he knew better than to get into it after 5+ hours of driving in a contained space where neither could retreat from a confrontation, instead opting for the timeless art of deflection.

“Can you check the glovebox? Maybe there’s a CD or something.”

Lori begrudgingly sifts through the pile of receipts, napkins, and documents within. As she looks around, a large, glossy-white CD case falls to her feet. She picks it up and runs her fingers across the embroidered letters on the cover, their symbols seemingly foreign.

“What’s that?” Mike asks.

“You tell me. It was in your glovebox.”

“I’ve never seen that before in my life. What’s it say?”

Lori opens the case to reveal a CD with a giant yin-yang symbol covering it. Next to it, simple, plain text in black and white.

“Guru Steve’s Path to Enlightened Relationships,” Lori reads.

Mike laughs. “C’mon, what’s it really say?”

“I’m serious – ‘Guru Steve’s Path to Enlightened Relationships’. When did you get this?”

“I told you, I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

Lori places the CD into the stereo system and is instantly met with calming spa music full of harps and flutes. 

“Namaste my friends,” a voice with a thick accent sprung from the speakers. “And welcome to Guru Steve's Path Towards Enlightened Relationships disc 1 of 27. I am excited to join you on your journey.”

Mike and Lori both laugh.

“Oh boy, this should be great.” Mike chuckles. 

“Where the hell did this come from?” Lori asks.

“Right now, you’re most likely embarking upon a physical and spiritual journey and asking yourself many questions. Such as ‘why am I disappointed in my partner?’ or ‘when will this road trip end?’ or ‘how did this mysterious CD randomly appear in my glovebox?’ But not all questions require answers…”

Mike and Lori look at each other with confusion. 

“Or perhaps your partner’s unwillingness to engage in confrontation has left you feeling unloved prompting hostile responses even from the most innocuous comments about dogs and frequency of urination.”

Their faces slowly turn from confused to frightened. 

“Ok, good one Mike this isn’t funny anymore. Just turn it off.”

“Lori, I don’t know what the fuck this is.”

Mike reaches out and presses the faded EJECT button to no avail. 

“While this may be a lot to take in, we ask that you remain calm and begin to practice the radical acceptance required to mend your relationship. Love cannot be ejected.”

Mike twists the volume knob but it has no effect. 

“Nor can the volume of love be turned down just because you wish it so.”

Mike and Lori are wide-eyed. 

“What the actual fuck is going on…”

“Mike, what is happening??”

Max barks wildly from the back seat. Lori begins to panic as Mike pounds on the center console, desperately trying to shut off the stereo.

“Good. It is good to fight for the things we love. To feel this kind of passion is what makes life worth living. Your relationship is a blooming garden that needs sunlight, water, and fertilizer to thrive - but the burden will not be equal. And some days you each dig more fertilizer than needed by unearthing the insecurities of each other.”



Mike frantically scrapes at the console, trying to jam whatever random object he can find into the stereo system. He barely even notices the Civic drifting over the yellow divider or the growing headlights of the semi-truck barrelling towards them.

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