My 3-day drive-a-thon went as well as could be expected. Perhaps I could have had less rain, but it didn’t slow me down. Perhaps I could have gone without the brunch with the in-laws, but it was virtually painless. Perhaps I could have a 16 yo with a driver’s license, instead of an almost-13-year-old with the propensity for napping, but that will come with time.
I don’t regret the drive for a moment. I will even go so far as to say I enjoyed it. I’m glad I did it.
The drive to the Middle of the Country was uneventful. I drove a lot, stopped a little, and gamed the numbers on my GPS as much as possible without getting a ticket or compromising my safety. Two small things of note:
- Just as a rainstorm was about to hit me, some rubber weather-stripping came loose on my car roof. It was whipping around frantically, amusingly causing the cars around me to get out of my way. I’m sure the idea of having your car whipped is a frightening one. It didn’t take much to re-attach the strip, and I only got hit by the very beginnings of rain drops in the process.
- At one point, a red pick up truck passed me. The truck wasn’t new, but not too old, either. It was obviously used for the purposes for which it was created — the bed was full of useful items, perhaps used to build houses or barns or something. There were bungee cords holding some sheet rock in place. And driving the truck? A 20-something gal with long curly tresses wearing a tiara. She was smiling and singing. It made me want to listen to Taylor Swift. (But I didn’t, because it was “Suzie Solo Drive” playlist day. The teen/tween playlist was in the queue for later … I didn’t need a preview of that hot mess.)
During my drive, I ended up with a few new favorite musicians: Adele, especially her newer album, titled “21″; The National (almost every song); Anna Calvi (thanks to WD for that find) and Florence + the Machine. Old favorites remained favorites, and I enjoyed spending time with them: Elbow (love love love love); Coldplay; and The Decemberists. The Decemberists, especially, I enjoyed having the quiet focused time with. Their lyrics are so damned interesting, and I can’t focus on them in my usual life. It made me miss my high school/college/early 20s days, when I would buy a [tape or] C.D. and just lie on the floor listening over and over while reading the included lyrics. Maybe “rewinding” the tape to listen to a particularly compelling song more than once.
I arrived at the Ex’s house approximately 40 minutes later than I meant to. I’d forgotten that I would be crossing into another time zone when doing my planning. Upon coming to the realization in my hotel somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I was very excited. It meant I could sleep! Until 8 a.m.! Which meant I could watch another episode of Jericho! And stay up until midnight!
What I forgot was that I’d have to re-factor the hour when I crossed back over the time zone line. Duh.
Instead of sleeping for an extra hour, I should have texted the Ex and said, “I meant 11. I’ll be there at 11, not noon.”
The only real reason for the rush was that Mouse wanted to swim. I’d worked hard to find a hotel with a pool (and paid a little extra for the pleasure), and didn’t want my lack of math skills to keep her from her swim. Which means – it really wasn’t the end of the world to be running a little later. In the end, the extra hour of sleep was probably very good for me.
Brunch went well. My Ex-Mother-In-Law hasn’t changed an iota from when she was my plain old Mother-In-Law. It was relatively interesting to watch me, my ex, his new wife, his parents, our daughter, and his baby daughter, all interacting. It was very natural, cordial, and even pleasant. Mouse loved it. She sat at a table between her two parents for the first time in several, several years.* His wife is very nice and easy to talk to. She had a few blips in the past years where she approached Evil Stepmother status (probably while dealing with infertility and pregnancy), but by-and-large, for the past 10 years, she’s been a very positive presence in the girls’ lives, and I have little to complain about.
Mouse and I had a pretty easy drive. I’d planned for a shorter drive on Saturday, and more hours on Sunday, and I’m glad I did. We did end up at the hotel with a couple of hours to swim, and then went in search for food. Upon looking at the plethora of fast-food-only options in the Middle of the Country, we decided we weren’t actually hungry. Instead, we went to Walmart. It was her first time, since her mother is typically anti-Walmart. We got some forgotten toiletries, and generally took in the sights, sounds and smells of an American phenomenon that she had not yet experienced. The next day was liberally peppered (by her) with knocks on Walmart, and the inferior quality of the items purchased there (but seriously, the Cadbury Mini Eggs did taste a little funny ….)
She is not a good listener of music. She cannot just settle into a playlist. she wants every song to be “that song I really want to hear!” and so she did a lot of connecting and unconnecting the iPod from the stereo, and searching for certain artists (Avril Lavigne
, Avril Lavigne
, and Avril Lavigne
, mostly). She was dismayed at one point when I finally cried uncle and insisted that MY playlist get a turn, and A Fine Frenzy
came on. ”Why do you
have them?” Because I like them. Duh. Apparently, when your mother discovers and even likes an artist that you thought you discovered and liked as an independent teen, you get upset.
Not very upset, though. Moods stayed good the entire time.
As it turns out, our route home took us on the highway that passes within 2 miles of my parents’ house.
When I went to the middle of the country, I obeyed my GPS and took the northern-most U.S. highway. The problem was, in order to go where I had to go, the highway made me turn north, stay straight west for some time, but then turn south along the great lakes before I could head back west. Felt like wasted time. Also, honestly, the freeway through upstate New York is not exciting. So on the way home, we took the other highway. The one that makes you go east, then turn south for a bit, then go east, and eventually turn north again. Grrr. Why can’t you just go east/west from Massachusetts? What’s up with all the turns and twists and unnecessary mileage?
We decided if we had to go all zig-zag anyway, we may as well take the zig-zag option that lets us pop in and say hello to our parents/grandparents. We had every intention of making it a surprise, but as my parents’ Easter dinner plans came clear (through their 10,000 calls to me to make sure I was okay), we realized a surprise could cause a problem. So we told them at 2 that we’d be there at 4:30.
They were having dinner at my brothers’ house, and they all decided, “oh, let’s wait for them for dinner, instead of eating at 3.” But they decided that after Mouse and I said, “oh, they’re eating at 3, so lets stop and get food so we aren’t hungry when we get there.”
And my mother was in rare form. I am not entirely sure what was up with her. But she was in rare form. I ended up getting a 5 minute lecture about my “attitude” when I was in college. When Mouse and I got back in the car, I thought about giving her a 10 minute lecture about her toddler tantrums. How dare she act so irrationally? What was she possibly thinking? But, actually, those tantrums were only 9 years ago. Not twenty years ago. For crying out loud.
Then, to top it all off, the last 2.5 hours between my parents’ house and my house was our first run-in with traffic. It was riddled with traffic. When we first got in the car, our GPS told us we’d be home at 8:15. We got home at 9:54.
It was good to spend a lot of time quiet and with less input. It was great to spend time with my sweet daughter. And she was a sweetie. At one point, she dozed in the car, and the blanket I’d brought for her got twisted in such a way that she was uncovered. I reached over and covered her up, and she rolled over with a big smile & blew me a kiss and grabbed my hand from the gear shift, and fell back asleep holding my hand. We enjoyed each other’s company and made each other laugh.
And it is good to be home.
* I had them for brunch once, a couple of years ago sans the parents and baby daughter. Same thing – much civility, pleasantry, and get-along-ability. Bodes well for weddings and graduations, I think.