Friday, June 24, 2011

Night Rider

I love to travel. That being said, I am not a seasoned world traveller by any stretch of the imagination. I've been to Europe twice in my life, and loved it each time, but that's it. I can't even claim to have seen more than a handful of states in this country. But California? I know California.

image from here

Among other routes, I used to drive I-5 from the central coast to Chico, over and over for a couple of months. This was about ten years ago. My car didn't have air conditioning. I would buy a gallon of water and put it behind the passenger seat. Every twenty minutes or so I would grab it by the handle and slosh it over my head, drenching my hair and the entire front of my body, plus the cloth seat. In the dry heat of Sacramento traffic, everything would be dry in about fifteen minutes. However, with all the windows rolled down, you had fifteen minutes of homemade air conditioning!

Understandably, now my favorite time to drive long distances is at night. Despite the fact that I now have air conditioning. I love the community of drivers on the road in the evening. They are mostly long distance drivers, they aren't late for work, and they are more generous than daytime traffic. I love the colors of the evening, my favorite time of day. The silvery metallic blue of the flat freeway, sparkling like a mirage where it meets the glowing horizon. The Salinas river, carving out the landscape like a bright mirror laying in the dark. The headlights sparkle like Christmas lights as the stars start to emerge and the moon rises. Long distance driving is one of the activities that seems to force me to live in the moment. I do my best thinking on the road at night.

image from here

One of the best things I learned from Al-Anon, a support group I belong to, is the metaphor of the rear view mirror. Examining your past is good, and looking to the future is good, but only in short glances. Staring into it for too long is as dangerous as never looking at all. A few glances every so often is just right. I always think of this when I'm driving, for obvious reasons, and I take that opportunity to think about my past, my future, and if my present life is everything I want it to be.

Life for me right now is both peaceful and exciting. I have never felt so aware, empowered and blessed ever in my life. With my husband tapping away on his laptop, my baby fast asleep in the backseat, it feels great to sink into that cozy feeling of fulfillment. Or is that just my seat warmer?

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