I didn’t know that your collar bones could hurt, but apparently, they can when you’re really tired. I feel like a sumo wrestler is sitting on my collar bones and slowly crushing them into a fine powder which will then be sold on the black market to a traditional Chinese medicine man. (Is that racist? Sorry.) It may have been a short driving day but it was a long day nonetheless.
We woke up in a wintry ice palace and I was the grumpy ice princess (HEAVY IS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN). Even though I was in bad mood because I was tired, it was hard to be disgruntled when the outside world looked like a pre-teen has just bedazzled the crap out of everything. It was so beautiful; I just wanted to run around in the snow, being one with nature. But nature was too cold for that type of hippie nonsense.
Dad took the first shift of driving and I stared outside the window, absorbed by the cows dotting the countryside. I decided that one day, I would like to have a pet cow. And I’d like to name it Big Mac. Not because I’d eat it, but because I think it would be hilarious. But maybe that’s just because I’m tired. Time to eat, Big Mac! Big Mac, come here, you silly old cow. Big Mac, you’re going to be a mother!!!! We shall name him: Happy Meal.
Anyway, once again, we got lost on our trek to find coffee which resulted in tense tones and loud sighs of annoyance. Coffee seems to be driving a wedge between us. Once coffee was acquired, we sipped in silence. My father occasionally quizzed me on US history and then shook his head in utter dismay at my many wrong answers. When I asked him to quiz me more, he said, “No, it’s depressing.” Or something along those lines. Whatever, Dad. I know that there were 31 colonies, a Silverware War, and this guy, Jefferson Airplane, who sewed the first American flag together with shoelaces. Those are the only important facts you need to know.
We got to my apartment up at school in the early afternoon and then I spent a long time unpacking which was horrifically stressful. Unpacking/packing is playing Tetris with your belongings but it lacks any incentive. I spent a long time flopping around like a dying fish before I gave up and pulled a Scarlett O’Hara: “There’s always… tomorrow.”
A trip to Trader Joe’s to stock up on groceries almost resulted in a panic attack. It was some combination of the lack of sleep, grumpiness, and anxiety for school to start that resulted in me hyper-shopping to get it over with. It was so crowded that people were essentially tackling me to get to the kumquats first. Very overwhelming. So much so, my Fight-or-Flight response kicked in under this duress and I had to physically restrain myself from assaulting people by hugging my Organic Fair-Trade Ethiopian Medium Roast Trader Joe’s Brand Coffee to my chest (obviously, the ‘Fight’ response won out). I made my dad stand with the cart so I wouldn’t have to maneuver around the crowds and embraced my hunter-gatherer roots. I probably resembled a meerkat in the way I burrowed through the crowds unnoticed and then popped up briefly for air to observe my surroundings, scanning the landscape for danger.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I actually preferred driving over flying. And even though I was grumpy and my dad never did learn the appropriate angle at which to text so as not to blind me, I had the best time with Pops. Sorry, I was grumpy today, Dad! You’re the best. Even though you want me to be blind. Maybe because you’re losing your hearing you want me to lose my sight so that, together, we can be a mutant Helen Keller. Good job if that’s the case, you win.
Well, all’s well that ends well.
But I failed to mention that in yesterday’s severely snow-shortened drive, strange things started happening inside our truck on the penultimate day of our monster journey.
As may not be too obvious, I do occasionally try to be a law-abiding citizen while behind the wheel. And that includes using a Bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone. At some point, however, the hook device that holds the stupid thing to my ear became detached and walked away.
Not to worry, I thought. I just crammed the thing in my ear canal, and that worked just fine – until it popped out after about six minutes and disappeared somewhere in the crevices between the front seat and our Hoarders pile in the back. And to compound matters, while I was desperately scrounging under my seat for the bud, my new watch became entangled in part of the metal framework there and the band broke apart.
Okay. Blinding snowstorm. Manic semi truck drivers. A growing list of missing personal items. Unconscious Daughter.
Yep. Let’s pull off and re-group.
What I couldn’t figure out was why, apparently, hundreds of other motorists did not follow us off the Interstate. Things were that bad.
But we made the right call. After taking an early exit, we unloaded and watched the snow pile up all around us in the hotel parking lot. The only issue was my high-tech weather insulation device (black garbage bag from the Hampton Inn hotel) did not remain intact and my rolling suitcase became a little damp. Did I fail to mention that we had so much crap junk personal belongings in the cab that we had to throw some stuff in the pickup bed? That’s what poor planning will do for you. Fortunately, every article of clothing I own is fully weather-proofed (in other words, my wife is constantly trying to get rid of most of the stuff I wear), so a little moisture doesn’t really matter.
So, after a nice dinner, and six hours of the Weather Channel, we went to bed early dreaming of Sugar Plums (Daughter) and not another episode of Ice Road Truckers (me).
It became very clear to me this morning that Daughter’s selfless cuticle sacrifice along the way appeased the Highway Gods, and we were blessed with sunny (cold) skies and clear roads when we arose.
Hallelujah. I didn’t really say or even think that, but it seemed appropriate.
We proceeded to celebrate our good fortune with not just one, but two foo-foo coffee stops. And I even let Daughter drive.
“Dad. I can drive now. Okay? Okay? You need to wear the hearing aid in the ear closest to me.”
“But then I can’t wear my Bluetooth,” I replied. Very cunning.
As luck or good fortune or Weather Channel channeling would have it, the day was anticlimactic. It was an easy, short day (just a few hours), and we arrived at our destination 2981 miles and six days after we started.
The good news is that Daughter and I are still talking to each other. She is still napping religiously. And we carried about 500 extra pounds of unmelted snow in the bed of the truck for extra traction on perfectly clear roads.
Truth is, I began to realize a couple of days ago that this trip with Daughter was unique, and I tried to do a better job of focusing on the moment(s), just so I could remember for when I get old (say, toward the end of next week). For reference, Zen-me has just about finished reading the Dalai Lama’s Cat, and I have taken to heart that I cannot change those external forces beyond my control, but I can change that which I do control – how I think and react.
So, where does that leave me at journey’s end?
I’ve got a few more chapters to get through before I come to peace with the sh da assh semi-professional Truck Drivers of this world. That much is clear.
And finally, though I am concerned about Daughter (her errant driving patterns, some of her music, her fingernails), I think she’s going to be okay and I’m proud of her.
The question is, will she be able to get up early enough on Sunday to take me to the airport?
As if I didn’t already know, I think tomorrow will be a Pajama Day.