Gran's Apple Butter Blog

October 11, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Along the Way (7/IV)

Chapter 7 – Along the Way 

Along these roads we encounter all the same situations and scenery we meet up with on any other journey, whether it’s to Yellowstone Park or Wichita Falls, Texas. We have the same traffic laws to follow as well, like wearing our seat belts, following the speed limit, and how to merge in rush hour, something Gran said had taken her a long time to perfect.

We’ll want to be careful of those long straight-aways out where the sky is big and the land is large. Sure, we can make great time there – sit back and crank up that cruise control. But sometimes we get a little careless about watching the road, especially if it feels like familiar territory. We think nothing has changed, this is old hat, so we just sit back and fly on by.

This is never safe when you’re driving, Gran said. Even if nothing has changed, when we relax that much we have a tendency to drop into a light snooze, something even those wide roads can’t forgive. We may wake up to find ourselves sideways in a ditch or up to our hubcaps in quicksand. Neither was something Gran particularly recommended. Keep your eyes on the road, she said, and you already know where to keep your hands.

There are fun parts to these trips as well. Like all the road games you can play and the junk food you don’t keep at home. Gran’s personal favorite was stopping for coffee and the day’s blue plate special. She’d made more friends over grimy little diner mugs than she could count on both hands and feet.

And what about all the new scenery? You could stop and have your picture taken at each border crossing: Welcome to Oklahoma. There’s also the world’s biggest ball of string and that two-headed calf you’ve been reading about for the last three-hundred miles, and don’t forget the over-the-road burger joint, highlight of every trip.

Even in this day and age, sometimes you’ll find yourself at a toll gate. The lines here can get pretty long, so you better be prepared to take a break. You’re entering a whole other place, after all, so it makes sense there’d be some kind of pomp and circumstance. Don’t try to race around the crowd – take your turn, count your nickels, and be patient. When the light turns green, you’ll know it’s time.

Less fun in these travels are the backseat drivers who occasionally show up. You’ll know you’ve got one when you realize your knuckles are turning white around the steering wheel. At that point Gran said we’ll want to count to two or three thousand, nice and slow, remembering everything we learned in our sandbox days, and then pull over at a safe spot for a conversation. We can talk about boundaries and how things are, following the don’t-make-me-pull-over guideline.

Other times we’ll come to a place where we have to make a decision – a T in the road or a construction zone with diverging lanes, where each traveler must choose a path. It can be hard to make these decisions, and even harder to accept those made by others. If all goes well, we’ll find some way to proceed in peace. Perhaps we’ll realize we’re in the perfect spot to work on our patience, communication skills, and backbone building. If a truce can’t be reached, however, we may need to pull into the next car lot so Mr. Backseat Driver can get his own steering wheel. Other drivers may look at us funny, Gran said, but only we know what’s going on inside that car.

Of course, if we discover that we’re the ones trying to commandeer someone else’s car, we’ll want to give that some consideration as well.

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© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
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