Tag Archives: driving

Late July, 2014

Isn’t summer supposed to be lazy? Slow, relaxing, full of lemonade and good books and camping?

Apparently not.

This summer offers up driving and not sleeping enough and everything breaking–holy carp, everything I lay a hand on or live beneath or even think about breaks this summer. The plus side to it: I secretly enjoy broken things that prevent me from being able to use my computer to connect with the outside world from home. Only that lack of connections puts a damper on things like, oh, blog posts, for example.

How am I managing this post? The library, of course. I’ve been touring local libraries, depending on where life takes me. This one has plugs built in to the tables, which is brilliant if you have a sad little netbook battery that no longer wants to hold a charge (see–everything breaks). It has very high ceilings, and portraits of dour white people, and never as many patrons as I think it should. This morning, it is quiet, and in a moment I’ll be getting back to work.

The other thing about this summer? The wilds have come to call on us. Moose in the pond. Bear trying to strike up a conversation during dog walks. A lone hummingbird diligently milking the flowers outside the bedroom window. I suspect they have meetings in the early morning where they discuss the situation on our road. “Truth is,” the moose might say, “There’s a lot of breakage going on there. I can see it through the windows. I think it’s safe to move in closer.”

Another thing? My thyroid is not trying to kill me. That’s always a good thing.

The last thing? Throughout the spring and summer I agonize over turtles. They cross the highway everywhere around here, and they are killed in catastrophic numbers. I was driving a few weeks ago with too many fast cars behind me, and a very big truck coming toward me, and a turtle making a break for the other side of the road. I couldn’t stop to get it; I never would have made it in front of the truck. I was heartbroken about it, and dreaded turning back and finding the aftermath.

There was none. The turtle made it. The truck must have stopped, and the stopped truck must have made others stop, and this one time the turtle made it. I felt like the Doctor in the episode where he jumps wildly about after managing to save everyone from a medical accident and shouts “Everyone lives! Just this once, everyone lives!”

I hope your summer is going well.

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Once upon a time in a car

I used to love to drive. I didn’t get my license until I was eighteen (in Massachusetts I could have had a license at sixteen), partly because I could walk or take a bus most of the places I wanted to go, and partly because the only car I could learn on was a bear to drive.

That car was mine once I learned to drive it. It had belonged to my parents, and I kept it through college, right up until the floor rusted out and the hole could no longer be hidden by a cookie sheet stashed under the floor mat. My next car was little and silver and had the appealing quality of almost stalling out if I needed to accelerate quickly. That one lasted until my son was born–the actual day he was born–when we discovered the clicking noise I kept hearing was a bad bad thing. These days, I drive a classy thirteen-year-old silver car with 222,000 miles on it, and most days I thank it for continuing to run.

Cars don’t actually interest me very much, other than as a means to an end. I envy people who live in places where they don’t need to drive. The highway that we travel on to get most anywhere is not very bike friendly, particularly if you have kids in tow. There are no bus routes near us. Definitely no trains. Hiking takes me lots of cool places, but none are where I buy groceries, or go to homeschool classes, or any of the other locations I must travel to each week.

I no longer love to drive, but once upon a time I did. I loved being able to go anywhere, by myself. I loved listening to music in the car. All my music came from the radio, for those first cars I drove had functional radios and broken tape decks, and I spent a lot of time switching channels. I’d drive, and sing, and think, and wander, and I didn’t worry about things like gas, and environmental destruction, and the miles I was adding.

I just drove.

It was the most private place I had. Sometimes I drove and cried. Occasionally I drove and yelled, though I restricted that to late nights far away from houses. I told myself stories too, carried them forward from one trip to the next, like leaving a book open on my bedside table. I traveled through space on my own little asteroid.

I still listen to music much too loudly while I drive, and I sing along more often then my children would like. The pleasure is more or less gone though. When it’s warm, I watch for turtles to ferry across the road. When it’s cold, I worry about ice. The romance of cars has vanished completely for me.

Still, there are moments, when I hear the right song at the right volume, that I can feel myself on those roads in the dark again, wandering, thinking, dreaming. My own private bit of time travel, in my clunky old time machine.


How not to find your destination

I have a few days of driving back and forth to a neighboring state this week. Lots of time in the car, spent traveling to a place I don’t know well.

I don’t particularly like driving. I don’t like being lost at all. Just imagine how much I love driving around and around, with no idea where I am.

I had printed directions. I had GPS directions from my cell phone. Those worked great, right up until the point where the coverage vanished, and the phone decided I really wanted to go to a very small residential drive in roughly the middle of nowhere. Keep in mind that I pass much of my time in the middle of nowhere. It’s a place I’m pretty okay with, except when I’m supposed to be somewhere entirely different.

The written directions? Those would have worked great had the phone directions not brought me to exactly nowhere near the roads I needed to take.

Give me a map and compass and I’m happy as can be. Give me a car and multiple sets of non-functional directions and…well, less happy is the description I’ll choose for now.

Eventually I managed to backtrack to a road I knew. Even better, I managed to find an entire donut stand of people who truly wanted to help me find my way. They were spectacular. The kindness of strangers can be a wonderful thing.

So, me and technology? A little at odds at the moment. We’ll try to patch it up before “Phoenix” arrives in all its ebook glory on Friday. (I read the galley this weekend. The design people at Musa made it look beautiful.)

To the women at the house o’ gas and donuts on Rt. 101 today: You’re all fabulous. If you’re ever lost around here, I’ll be the first one out with directions for you.