Long car trips by myself used to make me anxious. I would do them, but I would dread them. They were boring and monotonous and stressful and every once in a while I would have a really bad one, where I would get lost (Mapquest, anyone?) or run out of gas (just once, pre-cell phone), or have to pull over on the side of a highway during a blinding rain storm.
In a former life, having a companion for a long car trip was definitely preferable.
Then I had kids. And my car trip companions tend to make the car journeys rather difficult. There are vomiting incidents, multiple bathroom breaks, malfunctioning DVD players, thrown food, breastfeeding stops, tantrums, yelling, crying, and just generally noise. Really, really loud noise.
All of a sudden, the idea of a solo car trip became enticing. And lucky for me, I took one such solo trip last weekend, to New York City for a bachelorette party.
I was really looking forward to this trip for a number of reasons. I was able to see my sister. I was able to celebrate my good friend (the bachelorette herself). I was able to get my nails done. I was able to order a bloody mary at a bar at 1pm and then order another one after that. I was able (by the grace of God) to stay out until 2am dancing. At a real life bar!
But I also was able to get a little over of 7 hours to myself in the car. SEVEN HOURS with no one to bother me! SEVEN HOURS of me and my own thoughts!
This rarely happens. The thinking that is. I am generally always doing. Feeding, cleaning, carpooling, refereeing, cooking, talking, yelling, organizing, internet surfing, planning, going, going, going, and then when that's all done, I usually watch some crappy reality television just so I don't have to think. And then I sleep. For as long as I possibly can.
But in a car, all you can do is think. And I thought a lot. For example, I decided that:
- I would really like to take guitar lessons.
- I really should take a parenting class.
- I would like to throw a huge party at our house, and have it catered. With a keg(s). I am thinking September.
- "Gimme More" by Britney Spears is an amazing song which I had forgotten existed.
- I used to think I wasn't scared of driving over bridges, but a near panic attack on a bridge in Delaware proved me wrong. Though I do prefer bridges to tunnels.
- No one makes mix tapes anymore. Remember mix tapes? I want to bring this back, but how to do it? On spotify? Or download everything onto a CD? Do people even use CDs anymore?
- I really would like to write a book someday. Oddly enough, I think it would be science fiction.
- I should eat more vegetables.
- I should write a blog post about how a long car ride gives you lots of time to think.
I thought about way more things than that, but alas, they have now escaped me. Probably a lot of good ideas, all gone. I really should bring a dictaphone on long, solo car trips.
I was in the midst of deep thoughts such as the ones above when one of the most bizarre events of my life happened to me. It was on my way home from New York, on Sunday.
This is really weird. And I promise I'm not making it up. I'm really not the type to do that.
Here it is.
I was near the Maryland/Delaware border, going south on I-95. All of a sudden I saw break lights, and traffic came to a near standstill. In the northbound lanes, several cars had pulled over and the drivers/passengers were running and jumping the median into our lanes. My heart dropped. I assumed there had just been an accident, and that the passersby were running over to see if they could help.
[As a side note, accidents like this in a close vicinity completely freak me out, because I always think to myself - what if I hadn't stopped for gas? What if I had been going just a bit faster? Would I have been the car in the accident? Scary stuff. Deep thoughts.]
A few seconds later someone actually ran past my car, so I rolled my window down.
Is everything okay? Do you need help?
The guy smiled at me, but continued running. As he did, he yelled back: There's cash flying all over the highway!
Traffic started moving a bit, so I got a clearer picture of what was ahead. There were 20 or so cars that had pulled over, and people were running all around looking for cash. Several people were screaming with joy, and I saw a couple people with wads of cash counting their money.
I didn't stop. I was completely freaked out. The whole thing was bizarre, and also dangerous - who jumps a median and runs across five lanes of highway? (Answer - apparently people who see cash flying from the sky).
I called my husband immediately and told him to google it. Or check twitter. Or something. And four days later, there's still no mention of it anywhere on the internet.
So I had the rest of my 1.5 hour drive to think about this. My mind raced. What the hell was that? It couldn't be one of those giving away cash scavenger hunt things you keep hearing about - because who would do that on a highway? Way too dangerous.
Instead, I hypothesize it was some kind of criminal/illegal drug ring, a la Breaking Bad. Someone needed to get rid of all their cash quick, and they just threw it out of their window. On I-95 South. On Sunday.
If anyone else has any other explanations, please let me know. Seriously.
I eventually arrived home, safe and sound. I came home refreshed, relaxed, and excited to see my family.
The car ride was nice.
Next week, I'll be taking another long car trip, only this time I'll have four other companions. It will, to put it simply, be painful. There won't be much time for thought. But really, should it take a solo car trip to get an opportunity to just think?
Which reminds me of something else I was thinking about during my car trip - maybe I should give the whole meditation thing a try? Then I wouldn't have to be in a car. Or drive. Or be a witness to illegal activities.
It's a thought.
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