Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Road

Boyfriend and I took a little trip for Thanksgiving – from Clarksville to Virginia – seven to eight butt-paralyzing hours by car, which is a good four hours more than I can usually tolerate in a vehicle. This is probably due to the recurring, nightmarish flashbacks of family car trips when I was a kid – five people crammed in a black car sans air conditioning in July or August, headed from Massachusetts to Texas or Florida – parents arguing in the front seat and Dad pushing the limits of the bladders and patience of all involved by driving straight through, usually exceeding all speed limits to hit some magical timetable and bragging rights known only to him.

We left Wednesday night after I got home from work and we each finally finished packing – an exercise that bore a shockingly strong resemblance to us moving out of the house forever once we’d packed the X-Box, the portable DVD player, two laptops, assorted duffel bags and every snack I could lay hands on. A tiny miscalculation landed us in the drive-thru line at McDonald’s instead of Backyard Burger, which we didn’t want to delay the departure any further to correct and were sorry for later.

Boyfriend did most of the driving, which worked for me, because I hate driving. Ok, ‘hate’ is a strong word – let’s just say I don’t enjoy doing it. It stresses me out, has me clenching my jaw and leads me to outbursts of expletives that are cathartic for me and jarring to everyone else in the immediate area. If I lived someplace where I could walk or take a subway or a monorail or ride my bike or strap on a jetpack to get where I wanted to be, then car trips could be special instead of a daily, necessary evil. And I could save money towards some nice vacations with the $35+ I wouldn’t be dumping on gas each week and the $700 annual insurance – not to mention the periodic oil changes and other upkeep. (I’m already lucky my vehicle has been paid off for a few years. Too bad I haven’t followed through with the ‘put the car payment into the bank for the next car purchase' plan.) And by the way, it’s past the year 2000 – aren’t we supposed to be flying around in personal hovercraft or doing the Star Trek ”beam me up” teletransport thing by now?

But back to the road. We didn’t run into much traffic on the way to Virginia, which was great. We had some tense moments in the car around 1 a.m. when the full effects of fatigue and confinement kicked in, but we found a hotel, stopped for the night and slept it off. The next morning, it was a quick drive and we were at the destination on a peninsula in Eggleston, at the coolest house this side of a Hollywood movie.

After two days with Boyfriend’s family, the nicest bunch of people you could ever have the good fortune to know, it was already time to repack the car and head back to Tennessee, which is actually a pretty good argument for moving further east closer to both our families. (Heck, even moving southeast to Nashville would chop an hour off driving almost everywhere, because with the layout of the Interstates we need to head towards Music City first.)

Our return trip was mostly by daylight, which made it feel easier. Boyfriend had a brilliant idea we weren’t able to execute on the trip out but pulled off for the trip home – an audio book. Before we left Virginia, he bought “The Road” by Cormack McCarthy (now a major motion picture out “in select theaters” which, as usual, means none near us). The book is on six CDs timing out to 6.75 hours. What a brilliant distraction. Sure, the post-apocalyptic story of The Man and The Boy fighting for survival in a burned-out world of ash and danger is bleak (FYI, the most repeated sentence in the book is “It was very cold.”), and I have a tendency to space out during lectures, speeches and conversations (basically anything longer than a 60-second TV spot), so I missed a lot of the story here and there, but it was still interesting.

In a creepy parallel to the story of a burned out world, as we were driving on I-40 West outside Nashville, we saw an 18-wheeler on I-40 East, the cab on fire with flames shooting out the driver’s side window and up at least ten feet in the air.

The Road ended at the last traffic light before our house. (The story, not the actual pavement.) We’ll definitely get more audio books for any future road trips, although I will likely push for books by David Sedaris or some other humorist. I feel a trip to the public library coming on.

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