I love a road trip. Honestly. I know not everyone does. My husband hates them. He’ll do it if there’s a good reason, such there isn’t a reasonable flight to take you from point A to point B and his presence is expected. I’m the opposite. I only need the excuse to go and I’m gone! A trip from Southern to Northern California doesn’t faze me in the slightest. I’m pro at it now. I know where to stop along the way (Starbucks and In N Out jaunts are a must!), where to get gas, where my radio signal will die and I’ll be forced to listen to old CDs (or my daughter’s Taylor Swift CDs). I know how long the drive should take and which routes to avoid if I happen to arrive in the city at rush hour (I’m good at this now, though…that rarely happens 😉 ). Once the car is parked and my belongings are stored, the adventure begins. In San Francisco, I have family and friends to visit and familiar sights I love to see. In Vegas, I adore the hotels and wacky people-watching (though I admit I’m only good in Vegas for 2 days before I’m itching to move again). And if I’m in a city I’ve never visited, all the better! It’s fun to explore new places and get outside of your comfort zone.
But why drive? It’s a headache. Gas is expensive. Traffic can be horrid and let’s be honest, spending six or seven hours on the road can be pretty damn boring.
I get it. What is it that compels me to get in the car when a flight would be a quicker option? Sometimes it’s simply a matter of cost and the convenience of having a car available to me, but truthfully I know there’s more. When I’m on the road for hours at a stretch, I do what most writers do… I daydream. I plot stories and get in my characters’ head. A song on the radio might remind me of a particular MC and before I know it, I’m his world. He’s bewildered by his feelings for someone he just met or he’s anxious to get things right because he knows this man is the one. I’m the conduit. I’m the crazy author who can bring herself to tears because she can feel his pain as though it is real. It isn’t easy to wallow in joy or sadness in front of a computer for hours, but in a car… daydreaming is my speciality.
The other reason I’m a fan of a good road trip is equally as personal but it’s something most people can identify with (unless you all have voices speaking non-stop in your heads!). I never take long trips alone. I always have a passenger or two with me. And whether or not the teenaged ones would agree, the fact is it’s a terrific chance to bond. I just returned from a short trip to Northern California with my sixteen year old daughter. We visited family and friends, saw familiar sights, ate great food, shopped in the city and walked until she complained. We also drove for hours listening to radio stations along the way or when the signal faded… we listened to her favorite Taylor Swift CDs. It’s part of any drive… and funny enough, it’s part of life. If you’re going to spend time with anyone for a stretch, you must learn the art of compromise. I wouldn’t choose to listen to TS and wouldn’t if my daughter wasn’t with me but I did for her sake and strangely, I found I enjoyed sharing something with her that was her idea, not mine. The music we listened to was often a conversation starter in the same way more mundane topics like the traffic or how funny our friend’s dog is.
I suppose it all comes down to time spent together. I have three children but she is my last one at home. Time is precious. She’ll be off to college in two years and I will have an empty nest. It’s okay. It will happen and I’ll be sad but that’s life. Time is a forward moving bitch. There is no revisiting special events unless you do so via photographs or memory. But it won’t change the fact it will be the past. For as much as I love to daydream, I’m sensitive to my real life surroundings. Change is a constant. It isn’t an option. People get older and leave us behind. Maybe a road trip is a funny way to catch a firefly in a jar and hold it captive for a short time. A forced means of spending time with a teenager who’d rather be with friends but will take one for the team and hang with Mom for the weekend. I don’t mind. If I’m only left with the memories, I will happily hoard them. These are special moments and I won’t give them up.
So… pack your favorite CDs, a few water bottles, munchies and earbuds if you’re not a fan of static on the radio as we traverse the Grapevine. Settle in for a six plus hour journey filled with music, light conversation and great expanses of blessed quiet where the thoughts in your head have free rein and just being with the people you love most is a gift. Next trip… Vegas. I can’t wait.
Happy Reading! Lane xo