I’m driving from Massachusetts to Ohio. 11 hours, the google application told me. 700 miles. No problem. I’ve never driven this far or long before. But sure, I can do it. I want to do it. I am excited to do it. The longest I’ve ever driven is probably two and a half hours. 11 hours alone is a long time. The brain can do a lot of work on the body and the mood, and it can get tiring.
My grandmother passed away yesterday. She was 92 years old It was very sad news, and brought up painful memories, happy memories, reflections on life, on the end of life, on quality of life and aging. It was expected, and to me, that she stopped eating was a sign that she really wanted to move on to what comes next. I am happy for her. But tomorrow is her funeral, and I had to make last minute travel plans to get to Cleveland. The flights were all insanely expensive, and very inconvenient. Getting to Cleveland from Boston could take an hour and a half or less by plane, but it would take six and a half for almost $600. Or $1100 for non-stop. So, I decided to drive.
But another, more deeply rooted reason why I decided to drive is because to me, driving across the country says freedom. It is something I have wanted to do for years. I never thought the catalyst for my first go-at-it would be a funeral. But so it is. I wanted to take a road trip. Free range to stop where I want, when I want, for as long as I want. That will not happen on the way there. I am trying to arrive in a timely fashion, to my aunt and uncle’s home, to be with family and sleep in a real bed before the funeral tomorrow. But perhaps on the way back.
Even so, stopping is necessary. And as I write, I am sitting in a rest area, with the usual suspects of Micky D’s, Eddy’s ice cream, convenient/snack/crappy coffee/slushy/trashy magazine shop (I purchased a decaf coffee with delicious hazelnut creamer at one of these earlier). When I pulled into this rest stop I wondered if I had mistakenly been driving in the wrong direction. Hadn’t I already been here? Am I going nuts with all this car time by myself?
Turns out, no, I am not. Perhaps we as a country are going nuts. All these rest stops look exactly the same, and serve exactly the same purpose. All a human needs on a long drive is a hamburger and a pee, and maybe a smoke on the side of the highway. Right? With food, rest, and a vice or two, are day driving can be as complete as our day at home….right? Wrong.
Why can’t there be highway signs that say, “Nature Stop, 2 Miles Ahead”, or “Don’t Wait, Take a Meditation Break!” or “Stay Awake, Stay Healthy, Get Some Exercise, Walking Trail Next Exit”.
Well, keep dreamin’ Gaby. I know I am close to Niagara Falls now. Close to some gorgeous parks and trails I am sure. But alas, I don’t feel I have the time to explore, and what’s more, it will get dark soon.
I ran five laps around the parking lot when I first arrived, and did some leg-kicks and jumping jacks. I looked not so longingly as a very obese woman took a lick of her enormous ice cream cone. If only my desires could be satiated here, as hers seem to be. But…I guess I’ll just run another few laps around the concrete lot, enjoy the stares and amusement of others (if anyone even cares..perhaps I am making myself seem all too interesting), and get on my way.