I believe in the car, the highway, and the magic that occurs when the bags are loaded up and the journey begins. It does not have to be anywhere special, just a trip home from college, visiting over the holidays, or a summer vacation to the beach. Something special happens when people are together and the car is driving. Some of the most memorable occasions of my life that I forget all too often happened on the road.
This came streaming back to me after Christmas in 2006, my wife, my baby and I were getting ready to get on plane in Detroit after visiting my family in Toledo, OH. We had made this flight many times before, and countless other flights like it. We were ready to be herded like cattle on to the jet-way to sit quietly for 90 minutes and then de-plane back in Washington, DC. Simple and easy, the perfect way to travel, until the flight was cancelled we had no other thought. Once it was cancelled, we scrambled, we had a baby, we could not be routed all over creation just to get home, I had to work we could not stay an extra day!!!
Then it happened, we rented a car and made an eight hour drive home. The experience at the airport was exhausting, we were at our wits end, and then we got on the road. In that 8 hours we talked, we laughed so hard it hurt, and we looked and listened to another world that we were just passing through. That’s when it hit me, I realized the day I knew I was in love with this woman was first day we driven somewhere together. It went further then, and I remembered a week long drive to Colorado with my brother, the countless drives with my family to visit cousins, a long drive with myself and a baseball game on the radio as I set out on my new life as an adult after college. All the games my family played on the road, the silly traditions friends and I have had as we went to the beach or came home from school, the issues and consequences I have wrestled with quietly in a long drive on my own.
I had trained myself to look at driving as nothing but a mess of construction and traffic. I did not see until that day that the world inside the car can be filled with love, adventure, and a special spirit that only exists there. A magic thing occurs as you scan the radio for a local newscast, conversation you didn’t know you wanted to have can happen because of the proximity and the time, and a childlike sense of wonder can hit as see the landscape changes through the windshield.
I believe in the road, I believe in the car, and I believe that life gets better after spending time there and experiencing what can only be felt on a highway.
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