Waiting #SOL22 19/31

We are sitting in our car – a minivan, naturally – at a rest stop in the middle of Pennsylvania. It’s beautiful here: a large lawn, squishy from rain and melt, surrounded by trees and sheltered from the highway. Picnic tables dot the slight slope; there’s a good rock for climbing; people are walking their dogs. The weather is perfect, too: sunny with a cool breeze.

I’ve even taken a nice walk because we’ve been sitting here for an hour. Waiting. To return to Canada, we need a negative covid test. We tried to book one at Walgreens but ran into trouble. CVS has tests but not for border crossing. We had assumed that at this point in the pandemic, testing would be easy to find. Apparently, we were wrong. For a few minutes we were stumped, then, delighted with our cleverness, we booked a video test. All we would need to do was buy our own tests and someone would watch our test via video. Perfect! (Plus we got to make jokes about how one advertises for this particular job: would you like to spend the day looking up people’s nostrils? Join our team!)

But here we are. Our drive home is looong. We were on the road day all day yesterday and had planned to be home early afternoon today. We did NOT plan to spend over an hour at a rest area in Pennsylvania – even a nice rest area.

I’ve called the testing service. Their phone lines were jammed, the poor receptionist audibly harried when she said “15 or 20 minutes” about 30 minutes ago.

And so we are waiting, knowing that more time here is more time before we’re home. And I thought I was writing this to complain bitterly, but now that I’ve laid it all out, I realize that no one is grumbling or whining; no one is grumpily sniping at someone who is simply nearby; no one is even generally harrumphing. The kids have (grudgingly) taken a walk; I’ve been knitting and writing; we’ve discussed the iconography of the US one dollar bill (not sure how that happened, but here we are). I tell my students all the time that one reason to write is to straighten out our thoughts, to find out what we’re really thinking. And that is what just happened: I think I’m writing to say that if I have to wait, I’m happy to wait with these people in this space. And that waiting really isn’t the worst thing, even though we are all a little annoyed. After all, there’s the sun and the trees and these people whom I love. And that feels like a lot.

(I still hope the testing site calls soon.)

Update: call ended; all covid tests are negative. We’re on our way home!

Passenger

I am a terrible passenger. I am writing this so that I will not look at the road and

snowy trees.jpg
Look at all that snow! Too much for March – terrible driving weather.

involuntarily wince as my husband passes trucks. It’s terrible driving weather – snow falling, temperature hovering near freezing, road deceptively black and mostly (hopefully) wet rather than icy. He’s a good driver, but I still can’t comfortably watch.

So far, to keep my eyes off the road and my hands from gripping the armrest, I have played Sudoku while listening to an audiobook, read an entire book aloud to our children, and scrolled through my phone (supposedly to read the newspaper). Now I’m writing. We’ve only been on the road for two hours. We have two and a half to go.

I wish I were a better passenger. I wish I could settle in and allow someone else to be in charge without second guessing, well, everything. When I think about it, I can feel myself sitting back and admiring the scenery. I can almost hear myself chatting breezily with my husband and not holding my breath as we round a curve. I relax because I’m not trying to hide by my ridiculous reactions. I imagine the mundane joy of showing someone how much I trust them by simply remaining calm.

But this is beyond my conscious control, and my subconscious desire to be in the driver’s seat comes with a cost: my reactions can make others less confident (or sometimes even angry); I end up doing the lion’s share of the driving; and I struggle to let go. And then there’s the emotional toll of trying to hide the irrational panic that grips me as we pass another truck.

I am a terrible passenger. It’s something I am working on.

But… after we arrived, I asked my husband to read this because I was feeling like a heel. He agreed with every word (harumph), but he swears that he only barely noticed me holding my breath once on this trip, and he says I need to add that I am a great driver. I’m pretty sure he’s not placating me. In case you’re wondering, he’s a fantastic passenger.

Slice of Life, Day 15, March 2018

Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful month.