In August of this year I spent a very long day driving from my home on the central coast of California to Eugene,Oregon…800 miles in just 12 hours if you didn’t need to stop for the necessities of life such as Starbucks iced tea or rest stop bathrooms.
My daughter was soon to deliver her second child and I’d secured four weeks off from work in order to be there to help. My daughter moved with her family to Eugene right around the time she learned she was expecting child number two; needless to say, this complicated the move somewhat by elevating priorities such as securing a good doctor and hospital for delivery, health insurance coverage in a new state, and what to do about their not-yet-two-year-old son when she went into labor. Hence, my trip.
I do like to travel, and traveling alone is peaceful in a strange and lonely way. For a time my job required monthly road trips to Sacramento to attend meetings–a six-hour drive one way. I used to fly until nonstop flights from Santa Barbara to Sacramento were eliminated and flying meant connecting in San Francisco; airport and security logistics made for a very long day even though the actual flight time was about an hour and a half. At that point it was simply faster to drive, so that’s what I did. I’d check out a book on CD from the library and head up I-5.
We helped our daughter and son-in-law move in February, so driving to Oregon wasn’t a new thing. The husbands drove the moving truck and I drove their SUV loaded up with clothes, baby things, my daughter and grandson. We took two days to travel, staying overnight in Redding, CA. As we wound through the mountains at Shasta we saw lots of snow, and as we crossed the border into Oregon we marveled at the lush greenness of everything, coming as we were from drought-devastated California. We moved them in and flew home.
In May my husband and I hit the road for Oregon once again, this time loaded down with baby things for the new one coming in August. We had diapers and presents and a hand-me-down swing from our younger daughter. We were surprised to see that Mt. Shasta still was covered with snow even though the temperature outside was low 90’s. The trip took us about 13 hours. We spent a wonderful week with the little family and then took the scenic way home via the Oregon and California coasts. That will be another story for another time.
Back to my solo road trip in August. I felt familiar enough with the route so there wasn’t any stress about that. Making it to Oregon in time to be of help, specifically, before my daughter went into labor, was the biggest stress. She didn’t know anyone yet that she felt comfortable leaving her child with and definitely no one she felt comfortable calling in the middle of the night if need be. But made it, I did. I arrived safe and sound after about 13 hours on the road, just after dinner time on August 13th, and the baby didn’t come until around noon on August 23rd. Perfect timing. My Oregon adventures during those four weeks will also be another story for another time.
My solo road trip was enjoyable thanks, in part, to Sirius/XM radio. I listened to 70’s on 7, The Groove, Hits 1, Classic Rewind, The Bridge, NPR, The Message, and Watercolors. I heard songs I hadn’t heard in a long time and that I’d forgotten all about. One of those songs was Hummingbird by Seals & Crofts. What a mesmerizing song! I couldn’t get it out of my head. I mentioned it to my husband during one of our FaceTime calls and he (classic rock aficionado) remembered it immediately. I sang this song to my grandson. I googled its meaning and learned that it was on the same album as another of my all-time favorite songs, Summer Breeze.
Hummingbird has become sort of like a theme song for me. The hummingbird is a miraculous creature of God, accomplishing what should be impossible. And that’s what I want to do in this new place in my life, in my marriage, even in my career. I trust my instincts, I trust my common sense, and I’m going for it (whatever IT is) because life IS too short. Taking a four-week trip, away from my husband and job and home–I didn’t ask permission, I just decided to do it. Deciding, in my mid-fifties, to pursue a master’s degree even though it may not make a difference in the course of what’s left of my career. Encouraging my husband to retire because I know he’s tired, even though I’m newly energized in my own career; him taking care of the house and me seems like a positive change. Looking for the perfect little house to downscale; and considering a move far away from the town I grew up in. And even deciding to invest in my wardrobe, experimenting with my fashionista side, because I lost about 70 pounds in the past two years. Stitch Fix is my new favorite obsession.
My solo road trip gave me time to consider the changes I want to see in my life and a quiet space to recognize revelation through a haunting, beautiful song. Maybe this explains the purpose of this blog or maybe it doesn’t but to me, it all makes perfect sense.
Alas, here comes the gardener
He’s come to till the flowers
The drought of understanding
Wisdom, peace and love is ours now