Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Bags Are Packed. Should I Check My Problems Or Carry Them On?

I’m a road tripper. Hand me a map, a bag, and some pesos and I’m there.

I think I get it from my dad. We’re such tall, poor people that if we can’t sit in First Class and get the extra leg room for 4 hours, we’d rather sit in a mini-van filled with family tension, (but all you can eat BBQ along the way) for 24 hours.

You can judge all you want. But I don’t want to hear from the short people who have leg room in coach.

Anyway, B4K (that would be “Before Kids”) I would take to the open road. Feel the wind blow through my hair as I smelled the gas leak from my ’80 Toyota. Pack a bag with nothing but contact solution and dreams. And hope to heaven that I would have enough gas money to get back.

I’ve had a lot of memorable road trips in my life. They were all, at the time, a little slice of hell. But now that I’m older, I can appreciate the value of each story. I covet those memories. I cherish them. And I hope they’ll make me a lot of money when I sell them off down the road.

(There’s evil laughing in my head right now.)


One of the most memorable trips I’ve had was at the beginning of my freshman year in college. I’d had a rough week and I was itching to just go somewhere (I had what I now call the “yips”…an irrational desire for action of any kind that usually leads me to consuming way too much wine). So I blasted into my dorm room after my last class on a Friday afternoon and said to my roommate, “Pack your bag. We’re going somewhere.”

What she should have done was smile, nod, and run like hell.

Anyway, I can’t remember whose idea it was exactly to bring the Magic 8 Ball. It was probably mine. Along with my creativity comes a lot of thought processes that don’t make any sense at all. (I choose to not think of this as the tipping point to being insane, but that I make life colorful for all of those around me. You’re welcome.) The next thing I know, we’re at a gas station, filling up her Dodge Shadow (which had less pick-up than a tricycle), buying a map, and asking the all-knowing Magic 8 Ball which way we should turn.

This went on until our evening in Northern Colorado turned into 3 AM in Somewhere Texas.

We ended up in a motel just south of the Texas border. “Seedy” would have been the 5 star word for it. The TV was chained to the dresser. There was questionable reading material in the nightstand (if that was the Bible…I didn’t know that we could procreate that way). And I think envelopes would have been more plush than our pillows.

Obviously…I’m a Best Western kind of a girl.

Once our trip had reached our unknown destination, I sat on my bed that had more springs than mattress, and waited to feel better. After all, I had traveled 6 hours…surely what ever issues I’d had, had been locked away in my dorm room for the weekend. And if they’d managed to follow me to Texas…you would think they would have had the sense to at least check into the Holiday Inn. I thought I had gotten away from everything. That even though that Dodge Shadow wasn’t very fast, surely it could out-run my problems.

And you know what I figured out?

Problems have no borders. And they obviously don’t care if breakfast is included. Because there they were…sitting right next to me.

When my husband died, I thought about that trip a lot. How I did everything in my 18-year-old power to get away from what was bothering me. And how it didn’t work. When I lost him, my first inclination was to get the hell out of town and leave the whole mess behind me. You know… “fight or flight” and I definitely didn’t feel like I had it in me to fight. But then 18-year-old in me reminded the 31-year-old me that I could run all I wanted to…but if I didn’t take a stand against my problems and show them who was the boss, they’d take over me.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and that all of our life experiences should teach us something. And that I took that trip so that I would know now I had to face my life, confront my problems. Or they would follow me everywhere, waiting to be noticed.

I’m not saying that taking a little vacation now and then as a distraction or to give yourself something to look forward to isn’t a good idea. But the purpose of “getting away” can’t be to get away from what you carry inside. If it is, I’m worried you might be disappointed.

And if you’re not sure about my theory, please test it out at a cheaper motel. I’m only glad that I learned this lesson young, in a little pay-by-the-hour hell hole in Texas and not in the Bahamas or something. That would have completely pissed me off.

1 comment:

  1. I remember when you took that trip - and I remember being SO glad you guys made it back. Who woulda thunk you were making an after school special for yourself? Freakin' life lessons! xoxo