Friday, June 19, 2015

365 True Things: 83/Driving (6/19/15)

This afternoon I needed to fetch half of our party at a train station thirty minutes' drive from where we're staying. Heidi gave me the key to her car, and immediately I felt at home! Her car is just a couple of years older than mine, with the same shifting pattern, easy-to-find seat adjustments, a comfortably used clutch.

It was such a pleasure to get on the road and drive. I think I see things differently when I'm driving. I have more a sense of possibility, of adventure. Certainly more so than when I'm being chauffeured.

Not solo, but a road trip for sure

Driving down the winding Norwegian road today—no center line, you just stay to the right when a large truck is charging toward you; and although it was clear when a lower-than-highway speed limit was kicking in or ending, I realized I had no idea what that highway speed limit actually was (I guessed 90, though I think it might have been
80 . . .)—I thought back to other road trips I've taken by myself. Like Arizona one spring, which also included my first solo backpack and my first visit to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, as well as a grand (solo) exploration of the Huachuca Mountains. Or there was a glorious drive through Italy, again all by myself: I picked up my car in the little lot across from the main terminal at the Milan airport, then headed straight to Ravenna, on the east coast, an amazing town full of 1,400-year-old Byzantine churches and beautiful mosaics. Heading west, I passed a sign pointing to the town of Vessa—name of my first boyfriend, whom I'm still good friends with: of course I had to stop. I never did find Vessa (I think it might have been a graveyard at a crossroads), but it was fun looking for it. I loved sailing past Pisa heading north—the leaning tower was right there for the viewing—then crawling up into the mountains past the marble quarries of Carrera, where Michelangelo selected his materials.

& c. I won't go on and on with my reminiscing. The point is, as I drove today in my brief half hour of solitude and self-direction, I was reveling in those old memories and the muscle memory of driving and actively exploring.

And looking forward to more.

But for this week, we'll be chauffeured. An experience I'm never crazy about. For one thing, if I'm not under active control of my movements, and I don't have ready access to a map, at the end of the trip I'm often totally lost as to where we've been. I spent a couple of weeks in the Orkney and Shetland Islands a few years ago, and today I have literally no idea where I was. I don't like that. I need to feel grounded, oriented.

In another week, however, we will be given the keys to the red Toyota I drove today, and we'll get to explore on our own for a couple of days. That will be delicious.

I got a small taste today. That makes me happy.

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