As I write this, I’m sitting in a little farmhouse cottage in the middle of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. This week is the Chincoteague Pony Swim, an event on my friend’s bucket list. We booked it months and months ago. And for months and months, due to circumstances in both of our lives (turns out everyone has their own flavor of CIRCUS), we weren’t entirely sure until the day before we left that there was even going to be a “day before we left.”
Our little AirBnb is pretty rural. I’ve lost my bearings. You’d think on an island, you find the shoreline and follow that, but I can’t see the shoreline from here. It’s cornfields and forest and fat dragonflies and honeybees and crepe myrtles. That loss of bearings played out in royal fashion for our first trip to the beach, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.
This is about the trip out.
Let me back up. See? Disoriented.
We left on Friday, knowing we were only going halfway, so a true “meandering” road trip. This stretches me because I’m not a meanderer. I’m a let’s-get-it-over-with-and-get-there-already. “It” being the drive. But we’ll see how this plays out.
There’s a fabric lover’s dream store somewhere in Ohio, and we must stop there because my friend sews. And she sews, and sews, and sews. When I saw her jaw drop when she went in, I knew we’d be there for a minute. Table after table of pile after pile of material.
Her in a fabric store is me in a book store.
I fought down the let’s-get-it-over-with-and-get-there-already bug, but I did pull the phone out and recalibrate the GPS… We weren’t going to make it as far as I’d thought.
And that’s okay. It played out well. I actually engaged in the fabric-shopping process and scored some cool prints for Trudi the Office Goose. She will soon be the proud owner of the full wardrobe she was promised upon the start of her employment.
We did, however, get into our first argument of the trip in the fabric store. I’m sure the ladies manning the joint had quite a few somethings to talk about when the two of us left. I found cute fabric that had cacti all over it. She gets excited, finds matching/contrasting pieces to make outfits for her grandkids, and then a few minutes later, flops the fabric back onto a pile and declares, “Those aren’t cactuses. Those are olives.”
I begged to differ.
She said she wouldn’t use that print.
I said if you make the outfits and toss the granddaughters in the Sonoran Desert, everyone will see catci because that’s what you're primed to believe. Who would wear olives to the desert?
She said that wasn’t good enough and that she’d only ever see olives.
Well, it played out alright because, to get even, I tossed another print of my own on her to-do list so Trudi gets another cape out of it.
We’re so tired by the time we didn’t get to where I thought we’d get to, the hotel desk clerk also now has a few somethings to talk about. That’s not a story for another blog.
I saw the clock at least once every hour until morning. Images of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge burned a hole in my mind during some of those waking moments. Let me back up (I hope I’m not making you dizzy…)
I have a bridge fear. Had a bridge fear? I’ve blogged about it before. Don’t know why it freaks/freaked me out, and at this point, I don’t have the energy to care. But Couch Lady has given tools that have proved useful in this situation. I was able to go back and forth over the Ohio River twice without having a massive meltdown, stress sweats, or full-body twitches when the Hubs and I flew out of Cincinnati.
I truly wasn’t really worried about the bridge until my dear travel buddy started worrying about the bridge on my behalf. Googled it. Aerial photographs. Discussions with her engineer husband about safety. Tunnel claustrophobia had her in knots. I know the feeling. It’s awful.
But I was okay with trying it. I could use Couch Lady’s tools, put on my music, and just drive like there was solid ground underneath. Instead of all that air and water.
Well, a crash on the main highway had us reroute. There goes the place I thought I’d stop to stretch and get myself situated before three tunnels and 17.6 miles of bridge. On the new route, the Bay snuck up, and here’s how that played out:
Toll tunnel: Just so you know, have a twenty-dollar bill ready to go—that’s what it costs to willingly place yourself in this situation. The first tunnel was no big deal. Two lanes of traffic, same direction. I didn’t even have time to turn my music on. A little Andy Grammar. A little something with a deep bass beat. But no. I’m not taking my hands (which were not sweating, by the way) off the steering wheel to fiddle with Pandora.
The bridge/tunnel combo deal over the Bay comes around right after. My friend has a hot anxiety minute, I totally feel for her, but she’s the passenger. All she has to do is not puke in my car, please. I’m fine, but I want music. She distracts herself by getting her phone and playing music for me. From her playlist.
This does not include the pre-thought-out here-we-go-over-the-bridge-and-we’re-not-gonna-die-doin’-it playlist I’d carefully curated. No.
What does she choose? The Disney version of “Hakuna Matata.” Timon blaring out “No worries…” and “problem-free philosophy” and then…
She’s dancing onto my side of the car. I snap at her to stay on her side. She cuts the song before it’s done. Bye, bye Pumba.
Hello Madonna. Material Girl, I think. That one she should’ve blasted back at the fabric store. Maybe she would’ve been distracted enough to by the cactus/olive fabric. (I’m not bitter about the fabric…)
At this point, I’m in a tunnel. This one has two-way traffic, akin to driving at night with oncoming headlights searing your retina. I’m not anxious, I’m blinded.
She changes the song before the first verse is over.
And again. Bob Marley tells me not to worry and that I should be happy, but only once or twice, because… she cut the song.
Not one song played through. 17.6 miles of “No, no… I’m just trying to find the right thing.”
A highly caffeinated squirrel at the DJ control board would’ve had more focus.
“We’ll be done with the entire vacation, back over the bridge, and on the way home before you find the right thing. Let the song play through.”
But alas, we arrived at the welcome center on the island, and no one died.
The great thing about road trips is that you get those one-liners that make the memory board hall of fame. This is one of the many: Let the song play through.
Let me back up again. Pre-trip.
I just finished the first draft of the novel that’s been a work in progress for waaaay too long. The manuscript that’s given me road rash and heartburn and rivaled the stress of the CIRCUS in my backyard.
I’ve deleted, rerouted, stopped, and started this story more times than my buddy stopped and skipped through 17.6 miles of music.
But I wasn’t about to leave Indiana without typing “The End.” Long stretches of writing. Long stretches of staring at the wall begging Little Miss Muse to please, pretty please, cooperate. I was so tempted to cut the last ten chapters and start again. Or cut a character. Or a plot thread. Cut it all. That was Thursday.
But I let the song play through. Little Miss Muse liked the challenge of working us over and around those last few chapters. Bits I would’ve canned had this trip not provided a hard and fast deadline.
It’s a mess in places, like someone caffeinated a squirrel and handed it my laptop. My proofreader will have to find the plot holes for me.
And I’m positive there are plot holes.
Just as sure as I’m positive the 17.6 miles of return bridge will cost twenty bucks and the rest of my sanity because my passenger won’t let any of the songs play through.