Things and Thoughts That Happen Because of Road Trip

In order to have Kiki home for Thanksgiving, I had to fetch her from college. That’s a three hour trip each way for a total of 12 hours of driving split between Tuesday and today. Driving time is excellent for my brain to wander and often it latches on to various thoughts and tells me that I really should flesh them out into full blog posts. Then I get home and realize that they’re really only interesting enough for snippets, not a full post. Except I collected enough snippets that I can make an entire post about them.

I spent a good hour of driving time thinking about how traffic patters on a two lane (each way) interstate are changed by holiday traffic. I developed an elaborate if-then driving strategy which I was going to detail in full. Of course that sort of thing is not actually interesting unless one is bored because she has to drive for two more hours and needs to occupy her brain somehow. So, I’ll spare you all from a thousand word screed about driving tactics. You’re welcome.

At one point on the drive I rode along side a tall cattle fence. Something about the design of the fence and the landscape made me think back to when I was in South Africa. We drove along roads similar to the one I traveled, but the fences were far more impressive. They were elephant fences, three times taller than the tallest cattle fence. My guide informed me that they only served as guidelines to encourage the elephants to pick a different path. Very few fences were able to withstand an elephant who really wanted to get through. So I pictured elephants wandering across the landscape. Then I pictured dinosaurs, because Jurrasic Park had animal containment fences too. Those worked about as well as the elephant fences really. Then I drove over the hill, left the fence behind, and found new thoughts to think.

I recently re-watched The Abyss because I wanted to see if it was still as good as I remembered. It was and it wasn’t. I watched the director’s cut, because that is the only version where the ending makes sense. The first two thirds of the film were excellent. I really engaged with the characters and their situation. I remember the final third being good, but this time it was very unsatisfying. On one of the drives, I figured out why. The ending speaks directly to people of the cold war era in 1989. Everyone felt pretty much powerless in the face of possible nuclear desolation and the average person really longed for some greater being (or aliens) to show up and demand world peace. That is what the aliens do. I think the fact that this ending was deemed satisfying in 1989 says something about the collective desires of many people. I find it interesting that the zeitgeist of the time was already tempering and ending the cold war. Some movies teach us a lot about the society that created them.

When I got a new journal, I got one with a plain cover. On the back I’ve started writing quotations that strike a chord with me right now. I find it interesting that four out of the five have to do with courage. I’d no idea that courage in the face of fear was so resonant for me right now. I’ll be pondering why.

Possibly because all the driving shook so much loose in my head, but church was a full pack of tissues event. It was a day where my heart was cracked open a little and it all leaked out my eyes. As I walked home, which is not technically part of any of the road trips, but was still a transit, so I’m putting the thought here. That sentence got away from me. Start over. As I walked home, I was thinking about my recently funded Kickstarter and the things I’ll need to do in the next few days before it closes. I was also thinking of all the other things I had to do, including six hours of driving (see, it relates.) The thoughts chased themselves around my head, then between one step and the next, I had a very clear impression. This year has been rough and wonderful in a hundred small ways. Most of the things that happened were ultimately good, but that doesn’t make going through them easy. I have been the shepherd of all these processes. I have guided my children, Howard, and myself through a dozen different transitions. I have worked long hours days upon end, switching from business work to family support, and back again. I saw all of that as a gestalt encapsulated with the feeling You have worked very hard, Strength of Wild Horses is a gift. I don’t get to have this project because of that work. The two are mostly separate. But it is more like a loving father who sees a hard working child and says “Well done. This is for you.” It has been a long, long year. We’re almost through with many of the transitions. I have just as much work ahead as behind, but right here–today–I get to have a project. It is one I longed to have for a long time. It has already given me so much, and it will continue to give to others. Strength of Wild Horses is a gift.

The phone rang when I was five minutes from home (we’re back to road trip stories now). “Mom! What is wrong with the microwave!” Gleek asked urgently. I’d been away from the house for seven hours. I’d no idea what may have occurred to make the microwave not-normal. I pointed this out to Gleek, while also mentioning that perhaps she should go inquire of the parent who was at home with her. It turns out that the turn table had been removed for washing.

I came home to Christmas lights in our front yard. I put them up yesterday and made sure to plug them in before I left, so I could see them when I came home. The tree is pretty, the lone strand around the doorway looks like our house was decorated by someone who only had a step ladder. Which is the case. We own a much taller ladder, I just didn’t want to climb it. The cost of falling is too high. Perhaps some other year we’ll spring for professionally strung lights put up by someone with proper equipment. I came inside to see that Gleek and Patch had assembled the tree. They’d also pulled out the Lego advent calendar. For the last three years I’ve bought one on clearance during the last days of December and then put it away for the next year. Patch opened the first door and assembled the little speeder. I’d only been in the door for a few minutes when Gleek asked where our advent candle is. I took a taper and quickly painted numbers on it. It is always interesting to note which of the family traditions matter to the kids. They’re not always the ones I work hardest on. The best traditions are the ones that spontaneously continue because they make everyone happy.

In two weeks I’ll get to road trip to fetch Kiki again. That time we’ll have her home for a month.