…take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. (The Eagles)
I am 1,686 miles from home and still have 856 miles to go before I meet Gary for the second half of my walkabout. Or should I say driveabout? When I hatched this plan to go visit a few family and friends, I didn’t think I could actually do it. Planning to be alone on the road for 8 days with 3 short breaks in between sorta had my hamster brain spinning in his little wheel at turbine speed. Furiously plotting points in Google maps, analyzing the budget, finding all the penny flattening machines along the route, pouring over hotel ratings, downloading travel apps, and calculating the cost of gas with complex algorithms kept that little hamster focused.
And then I started the car. And the sound of my own wheels drowned out that other wheel. Once I was in motion, my biggest challenge was figuring out how to eat the boiled peanuts I picked up in Bamberg, SC while driving to Conway,AR. My advice to all my fellow boiled peanut eaters (which I am fast learning that these folks are a small demographic) – don’t do it. Meanwhile, in the pros column, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of songs about places that you can not resist singing as you drive. After leaving my parents’ homestead in Bamberg, there was “Georgia on my Mind”. It wasn’t long before I was in “Sweet Home Alabama”. I got to drive right by “Talladega” and I hear there’s nothing sweeter than “Tupelo Honey”. Of course, the medley journey wasn’t complete until I was “Walking in Memphis”, walking with my feet ten feet off the ground.
The medley ended on the Doorstep of my college BFF where I was greeted by her and her family and the cat menagerie. The greatest gift we have in long standing friendships is being able to lower our shields. Those shields we keep raised around us in our normal contact with daily life. No need to be anything other than who we really are in each others company. No need for the emotional suit and tie. Our conversations flowed freely as we visited Pickles Gap so I could collect my first flat penny engraved with the words Toad Suck Country on it. Her daughter scored the deal of the day with her purchase of Monkey farts scented bath salts, which had an odor akin to overly ripe bananas. Of course, there was fudge to bring home. Everyone in the Roger household had to return to their normal routine this morning as I packed the car and thawed it out. The youngest shuttled off to school, the menagerie given their breakfast treats, a quick husband/wife kiss while holding brief cases and lunch bags, the trash rolled to the curb all happening seamlessly as I waved goodbye. It made me think of my mother and me swapping Cinnabon parts over breakfast before I drove to Conway because I like the crunchy outside and she likes the gooey inside. It brought back the scene of Gary standing in the doorway until I had pulled out of the driveway on Sunday. All of them going back to their Honey-do lists while my tail lights head off into the distance. I have been gone just long enough that mixed in with the curiosity and excitement of what waits for me down the road, is the desire to indulge in the ordinary routine of daily life. I guess sometimes you have to take flight to see how extraordinary your nest is.
There’s one more nest to visit before I meet Gary in Las Vegas. The downside to taking a crazy college style road trip, when you’re going solo and twice the age of a coed, is the lack of driving stamina. I couldn’t make it all the way from Conway to Socorro, NM in one shot. Despite my overwhelming desire to see my son right now, I’m hunkered down in Amarillo, TX. I confess that as I was standing in the hotel lobby, a young evil coed hamster tried to get on his wheel, saying “hey, what’s another 5 hours? You got one of those little bottles in your purse that has 5 hours of energy in it. Drink up! Roll on down that road.” Good thing the hotel would have charged me a cancellation fee and I tend to be just a wee bit obsessed with budgets and points and reward refunds. And if I had moved on, I wouldn’t get to sing “Amarillo by Morning”….. go ahead, sing it with me. You know you want to.