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This week, I’m choosing Prompt 4: A long drive…
As we learned from Einstein (though, to be honest, I never really did learn this and only came to his whole Theory of Relativity via a movie or book), time is relative. The five minutes we spend in a hot bubble bath goes by much more quickly than the five minutes we spend listening to a child throw a tantrum. The same can be applied to car trips. One of the longest drives I ever attempted in terms of miles and time was a breeze compared to other much shorter drives that felt like they lasted forever. Allow me to elaborate…
One of my longest solo drives was at the end of college when I decided to drive from my college town of Eugene, Oregon all the way through to my family’s home in Great Falls, Montana (827.69 miles/13 hours). I was supposed to do drive this in two days (stopping in Spokane, Washington for the night). However, when I hit Spokane in the early afternoon, I was in a groove and decided to drive straight through. If you’ve ever been on a long car trip, you know the groove I’m talking about–where you are one with the car, the tunes are perfect, the weather is cooperating, and the scenery serves as a perfect backdrop to your daydreaming as you speed along the open road. It was a marvelous experience, and I envisioned myself as Thelma and Louise (minus the problems with the law and the suicide by cliff at the end). I just made one tiny mistake. I took the time to call my family around 7:00 p.m. on a mountain pass to tell them what I was doing. My mom instantly went into a panic and insisted that they meet me as I was “too tired” to drive all this way. I wasn’t too tired … I was high on adrenaline and road trip joy. I was not pleased at all to have my incredibly long drive cut short by a “rescue.” The irony is that by the time I met up with them, I was only 30 minutes outside of Great Falls. It was like running a marathon and then stopping 10 feet from the finish line. I was kind of pissed … but not nearly as pissed as my mom was for me attempting this drive on my own.
However, since then, I’ve had much longer drives, such as:
- the excruciating 20 minutes it took to drive back to our hotel on Captiva Island as Mr. Jenners frantically searched for a restroom (there were none) while I writhed and screamed in pain while trying to hold in explosive diarrhea brought on by eating too much ice cream.
- the horrific 15 minutes we drove in a vomit-filled car after the Little One threw up all over himself while on vacation in Las Vegas. If you’ve ever driven in the heat in a car filled with vomit, you’ll know that such a drive is much much longer than a 400-mile drive in cool weather and a fresh-smelling car. Both Mr. Jenners and I were struggling not to lose it ourselves. I’ve been a lifelong “sympathy vomiter,” and it was a miracle I didn’t lose my lunch while driving in that pukemobile.
- the 1.5 hour ride from Orlando to Tampa with the Little One when he was a toddler and would not stop crying unless we sang The Wheels on The Bus. My throat was raw and scratchy and after listening to my off-key singing and endless variations about who was on the damn bus, I wondered if just listening to him cry or turning the radio up loud wouldn’t be a viable alternative.
- the 3 hour bus ride from Missoula, Montana to Great Falls, Montana after my plane broke down on my way home from college was almost unbearable due to the crowded hot bus, my overweight-snoring-stinky seatmate whose head kept flopping onto me, and the vomit-inducing scent of diesel mixed with restroom odors. And did I mention that the batteries on my Walkman (remember those!?) had died and I had nothing to distract me from the hell around me? I vowed never to ride Greyhound again.
- almost any car trip with the Little One once he has run out of entertainment or has just had too much of sitting and begins asking “are we there yet? are we almost there?” ever 15 seconds automatically makes a trip seem 100x longer than it is. Which makes me wonder why we think it is a good idea to attempt to drive from New Jersey to South Carolina in three weeks.
But of all these painful, smelly, uncomfortable or annoying long drives, the single longest drive of my life was the 1.5 hour, midnight drive from our home in New Jersey to a hospital in Bethlehem, PA that I drove while 8 months pregnant to get Mr. Jenners to the bedside of his dying father before time ran out after getting the “You need to come RIGHT NOW” call from my sister-in-law. It was a drive that, although I exceeded the speed limit the entire time, seemed endless and, in the end, took too long as we weren’t able to make it in time. I doubt any other drive will be as long or as painful as that one.
Wishing you pleasant-smelling and safe driving for all your trips,