The good news out here on the highway
Is that everything in life is a suggestion
But the bad news lonely on the highway
Is each question just begs another question*
Robbie Schaefer, "Number Six Driver"
I've paid my dues because I have owed them
But I've paid a price sometimes
For being such a stubborn woman
In such stubborn times
I have run from the arms of lovers
I have run from the eyes of friends
I have from the hands of kindness
I have run.... just because I can
Mary Chapin Carpenter, "The Moon and St. Christopher"
The years roll on by
and just like the sky
the road never ends
And the people who love me still ask me
When are you coming back to town
And I answer, quite frankly
when they stop building roads
and all God needs is gravity to hold me down
Alison Krauss, "Gravity"
As I look over my music collection, I have a lot of songs which have roaming as a theme. It's not any accident. I am by nature a restless soul. Every so often I get the urge to simply leave, and go somewhere else. Part of it is escapism. And stress. But the rest of it...
I moved across country three times. I moved from Florida to Massachusetts to Florida to Georgia to California to Virginia to California again (sadly). I moved while pregnant with each of my children, albeit two of the times only across town. (The Rocket Scientist used to claim that I timed my pregnancies so as to avoid packing, since I was usually too busy being sick as a dog to do much. I've never been quite sure if he was joking or not.) Not to mention various moves within locales. Aside from moving, I have also driven across country and back, as well as up and down the East Coast and from Georgia to Florida and Mississippi numerous times. On one family vacation, I helped drive from Minneapolis to Atlanta by way of Topeka, St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina. I have driven in almost all of the states of the union, in Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. I have driven in Australia and New Zealand.
I sometimes drive Big Sur for the sheer joy of it. Even aside from economics, there are reasons family vacations almost always involve driving rather than flying. (And I am not -- nor is anyone in my family -- afraid of flying.) Some people find relief in a bottle: I find mine on an accelerator pedal.**
As crazy as some of that some of that driving has been, I have for the most part loved it. (I am a good driver, and a cranky passenger.) It has given me stories that become part of who I am. (Remind me to tell you sometime about my dice with death involving a sheep truck, a blind curve and an oncoming semi in New Zealand. Or how Spanish drivers are crazier than Parisian drivers.)
Part of the fabric of my life for very many years now is that I cannot roam. I am tied, in ways that I take on with some measure of acceptance, even if grace is sometimes well beyond me. (That I have lived uninterruptedly in California for 18 years, and in the same house for eleven, drives me absolutely nuts.) Leaving would mean leaving the Rocket Scientist, who is tied here by love and career, and the kids.
I look towards the horizon with longing, even as I understand fully how much any effort on my part to leave would burden people I love. Intellectually, I understand that wherever I go would be fraught with many of the same issues I face now, but it would be somewhere new, with new challenges. And as the kids grow older, and less in need of me, the road calls even more insistently. In three years, the Red-Headed Menace will be out of the house and into college. And then...
I don't know what I'll do.
So don't ask where I'm going
Just listen when I'm gone
And far away you'll hear me
Singing softly to the dawn
Steven Schwartz, "Corner of the Sky" from Pippin
*I love this song -- and this lyric -- in spite of how grating I find the misuse of the term "begs the question" to be.
**And I know how environmentally horrible this is. How I know. Isn't the definition of addiction when you do things you know to be bad, and you do them anyway?