I could have had many of these, with all the driving we've been doing over the last week. Except that sometimes I was driving and other times I was reading. (Two books finished in the car this week, both highly recommended: Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Terry Pratchett's Nation.)
And have I mentioned that my husband is an online poker player? Like, for his job? So the main reason I was driving at all, was so that he could play poker on the laptop while trapped in the car. He also played while we were at the in-laws, so even there I had limited access to the computer.
We did drive a lot. Eleven hours or so, in one day, with minimal stops for gas/bathroom/food, to get to the in-laws. Four days after that, we drove three hours (north and slightly east) to visit one set of friends, another hour (north) beyond that to visit and stay with another set of friends. (Set of friends sounds awkward, but they are families now, too, with children around the ages of our children, which makes things so much more fun, if exhausting.) Then another two hours (west, this time) to visit more relatives, and finally four hours back (south) to the in-laws.
And now we're headed home, probably in the last two to three hour stretch, with the kids clamoring for pizza. The husband wants to get all the way back to our town, order some pizza from the local chain, and eat it at home. He has the slightly manic, possibly testosterone-driven desire to beat all his previous records on a given route, to make the least number of stops. I'm mostly on board with this--I want to get home, too--but two-year-olds and five-year-olds cannot be told to hold it and wait another two hours, although he's trying. I think they will wear him down.
I talked to my mom last night. She's home and glad to be there. She has to return to the hospital to check levels and adjust medications this weekend and three times next week. She won't be able to return to teaching this school year, because of her lowered immune system, but she is hopeful about next year. (My five-year-old and my sister's five-year-old would be in her class.)
I had all these profound thoughts I was going to say, composing blog posts in my head, when I was trying to fall asleep or taking a shower or walking around my in-laws' subdivision before the weather took an uncomfortably brisk, windy turn. Something about friends and how grateful I've felt recently.
I met up with one of my very best friends from high school on this trip after emailing a few times and talking on the phone once. She lives in the same city as my in-laws, has lived there for almost ten years, some of the same years that I was living only a couple of hours away, newly married and driving there to visit my new in-laws fairly frequently. We talked about that a little, a little regret that we hadn't found each other again sooner, but mostly we talked about ourselves. We shared things we hadn't necessarily known about each others' families back in high school, about how life doesn't ever turn out the way you think it will, how maybe everyone regrets something, but we just have to do the best we can.
Honestly, I'm not good at friendships. It's hard for me to make friends, being shy and always wondering what the other person really thinks of me. I'm prickly and waver between disclosing too much and not enough, probably mostly the latter. i often feel like I'm a couple of steps behind, that everyone knows some secret I don't, that (f you'll forgive the tired cliche) I'm always on the outside looking in. With her, my high school friend, I felt that we already knew each other's cores, as much as one can, and we could just keep talking as if we hadn't been interrupted by nearly 15 years.
So this is what I thought about writing, that there are some people you would be glad to have sleep on your couch (if, like me, you don't have a guest room to offer them), and I visited a few of them over this last week. When you find people with whom you don't have to pretend you're doing better than you are, people with whom you can talk about real things, even if those real things are books you've read or ways your children drive you crazy.
2009 is probably going to be a hard year, but I don't know if I've had an easy one yet, mostly because I haven't let myself just be and let that be enough. I look back and think I'd love to be 25 again, but a wiser 25-year-old, who knew just a little about what was to come, and lived better, happier in that light. But that's the way it works, I guess, that we have to live the best we can without knowing what's coming next. Maybe I'll start today.