Most know I love to travel. Flying is my preference…..generally because it means I am headed somewhere of some distance, which usually means a culture that is different than my norm. I walk into an airport and instantly relax. Well, once I get through the TSA line, which is only an issue because I go a bit nuts at the inefficiency of all of the people in front of me (have liquids out, laptops out, jackets off, shoes off, boarding pass and id in hand and don’t hold up my line!!!!) Though I agree that most of the screening is unnecessary, it doesn’t bother me. If it takes them seeing me nekkid to get on a plane, there we go. All in the price of admission.
But on occasion you just have to go on a good car trip. I’ve been car tripping most of my life. Born in Massachusetts, with my Dad’s family in NC, we headed here regularly. Generally driving through the night, so we kids could sleep on a mattress in the back of a Rambler and not get into screaming matches because we touched or looked at each other. No seatbelts ever used, to my recollection. (I first began using seat belts on a regular basis in 1983 when one of the 15-year old boys I was housemother for, at Grandfather Children’s Home where I worked, saw the scary driver’s ed films and made me promise I would always wear mine. I was 21 at the time. So far I have kept my promise!)
The rule in Bob McKinney’s car was that you had to last through a tank of gas. “Last” means no bathroom breaks, no food (except for occasional packed snacks, taken care of by Mom), no leg stretching. If you stopped for gas, that was your chance to do everything. Quickly. I still tend to follow this philosophy.
This weekend I do a whirlwind trip I have done several times….I travel to Louisville to see my friends Kathy and Ed. I drive on Friday, go to their Derby party on Saturday, and drive back home on Sunday. And yes, it is worth it!
The drive is always fun for me, despite the fact that I am always alone for this trip. Maybe that even makes it more pleasurable in one way. The joy is in the journey, and not in the company. I get to drive through the mountains. A nice relaxing drive. Amazing scenery. An easy pace. I usually have a couple of audiobooks. A good audiobook….is some of the world’s best entertainment. Which is why you must take several, because the wrong voice reading an audiobook is like nails on a chalkboard! But getting one that engrosses you for hours….pure pleasure.
My phone sometimes gets a workout. That’s one time people know that I will have my phone with me, have it on, and won’t mind talking on it. (Unless they call at a good point in the book!) I don’t like talking on the phone most of the time, so generally try to avoid it. Which means conveniently not having my phone within hearing distance. But while driving, it actually seems pleasurable. And I have found I can actually talk through states.
There is also time for thinking. And time for not thinking. Which seems like a luxury. Time for appreciating the things I see on the side of the road, and time appreciating when everyone is driving over the speed limit. (OK, a flaw. There is much I have to work on in my life and we haven’t started working on the excessive speeding discipline yet.)
When I get to Louisville, I will be excited to see my friends. And excited to see their friends, who I have gotten to know after attending several of these parties. Where only the main Derby race is on TV in NC, in Louisville festivities are on for the week. Or probably much longer. I generally watch it most of the day on Saturday. The first part where people gather…..a sight in their hats and (sometimes) matching outfits. Like watching the pre-festivities of an awards show….with a different style of fashion. Then all the races. Who knew there were so many? We bet small amounts and I never win money, though on occasion I win the scratch off cards (for “Place” and “Show”). No…I never win with those either. But we eat and we drink (And by the way, mint juleps just sound like they would taste good….they are not at all. But I do know why people just sip them!) and enjoy the day. The type of easy Southern hospitality that seems like it should be in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Driving home always brings that feeling of both melancholy and joy. I miss my friends who live far away and treat me as a most loved visitor. I miss being somewhere different and enjoying what life is like there. I think of the week ahead and dread the routine and responsibilities of real life. But really, I don’t usually mind coming home, wherever I have been. Home is formed inside out. And reinforced outside in. It’s not just the house, it’s not the geography, it’s not even the people. Home is the base where we choose to find rest, to find joy, and to be at peace. Home is the place where we choose to build a life of contentment. And hang out until our next adventure.