"I am alive." -- Was the text I sent to A, a dear dear friend, two or so days ago. Let us start with the short summery: I agreed to drive to Florida from New Jersey, plus mother, plus dog. Were there plans? I don't love the plans. All I knew was that I wanted to stop in Washington, DC, Charlotte, NC, and Savannah, GA.
The lengthy version starts on Tuesday morning if you care to know:
The first three hours on the road were a pleasure, that is, aside from my dog whining for three straight hours. At a rest stop somewhere in New Jersey I brought the dog in, although he annoyed me in a big way, I was not going to leave the desperate thing in the car. While checking out the beverage selection I was told by a rude manager type that dogs were not allowed. My response being: "Can I just buy a drink and go?" It was a bloody rest stop! The dog weighs 7lbs, what was she thinking? As I kept on with the drink search this woman approached me a second time to repeat her silly song, at which point I responded, "I will be leaving in a moment, if you can't wait a moment, then call security." At this, she left me to my business.
Around hour four we stopped for lunch at the Marvelous Market in Washington, DC. The attendants there permitted us to stay and sit, with the awareness that we were with dog. I have to report that once the NJ/NY area was left, persons had a friendlier disposition. Dear NJ/NY are we really what everyone deems us to be? When I asked the cashier how to get to the Washington Monument, she went downstairs to print map quest directions for us. Washington, I will be back.
As we drove towards the monument my mother opened her to-go bag and realized they had given her the wrong muffin. "I was dying for that chocolate chip muffin," she said.
Me, "Really? You were dying for that muffin?"
Me: "Alright then, let's go back."
After the muffin switch we drove towards the monument, in minutes I had a glimpse. I became excited, but there was no-where to park! It was bloody Washington, which means the ratio of security walking about, and the NO PARKING signs were equal. When I realized we were getting further and further away from the destination point I turned and said, "Do you mind if I park, run over, and take a quick look?"
Mother: "What am I going to do?"
Me: "Stay in the car." (She had zero interest in sightseeing.)
Mother: "Janie, it's far, why don't we just go? We're going to get traffic. It's almost 5 o'clock."
I look at her just as crazy as she was behaving.
Me: "What are you talking about? I just saw it! We just wasted 20 minutes on a muffin!"
People I was losing it. I was silent through the: "Watch the crumbs." "I don't think the door is closed." (Even though it was) "Jane, don't go faster than 80." "Why did you take the towel from the floor?" (For some reason she had a towel on the passenger side floor. (?)) "Janie, you can't drive with the dog in your lap." "I think we should stop for gas." (Even though it was at half tank) I could not breath heavily without having her ask if I was okay to drive. “Are you okay Jane, are you tired?”
Now, we're picking up at the monument conversation.
Me: "Okay, I'm going to have a quick look at the monument. You can come with me or stay here."
Mother: "But Janie, it's far away from here and it’s cold."
Me: "It's not far -- I just saw it. And I can bare the weather."
Mother: "What am I going to do?"
Me: "O my God, the heat is on, just sit here! I'll be right back!"
Mother: "What if we can't park here?"
Me: "I am taking my phone -- call me, only, if there is an issue with the parking."
(As I am leaving the car) Mother: "Janie, how long are you going to be?"
Me: “10 hours." (Door closes.)
I now understand why I don’t love the plans. I can now grasp why the idea of flipping off a cop in order to start a grand car chase causes me to blush. I do not like being told.
On route to the white building, I called A, to vent a little. "What was I thinking? I need you to look up trains -- I need to put her on a train!" She calmed me & made me laugh a little – Thank You Friend Of My Heart. While we spoke I climbed the white steps, my eyes met Abe Lincoln, and the sense of entrapment dissipated. I felt as if I were seeing something that I was meant to see in this life. Check. I tried to get closer, but of course no dogs were allowed to get anywhere near Mr. L.
(What is up with the dog hating? We love them in movies and television. Why exactly are we banning them from restaurants? Don’t we all eat our meals with our dogs sitting beside us, begging for a piece of anything?)
Upon the return my mother seemed a bit more composed, she stopped asking pointless questions, and I started with my own. I noticed that when she spoke most of the time she seized keeping track of the speed, which worked out well, until we got pulled over by Mr. Virginia State Trooper. The happenings of this ordeal went as such:
Mother: “O no Janie! We’re going to get a ticket!” (Pure anxiety)
Me: “We don’t know that, calm down, here take the dog.”
Mr. Trooper walks over to my window.
Mr. Trooper: “Good evening Miss.”
Baby barks & attempts to get at him.
Me: “Sorry, he always acts this way with strangers.”
Mr. Trooper: “That’s okay. I have a dog in the back of my car. I know how it is.”
Trooper: “So, is there a reason why you were doing 87 in a 65 zone?”
Me: “I’m just trying to stay awake.”
Mr. Trooper: “Where are you trying to get to?”
Trooper: (laughs) “You still have a ways to go.”
Me: “I know. Isn’t terrible?”
Mr. Trooper: “You should probably pull over to rest. There’s a welcoming center 23 miles from here, you two should get out there and stretch your legs.”
Me: “What exit am I looking for?”
Mr. Trooper: “128.”
Me: “Okay we’re going to do that.”
Mr. Trooper backs two steps away from the car.
Mr. Trooper: “I’ll tell you when you can get out.”
Me: (A little surprised) “Okay, thanks.”
Mr. Trooper: “Kay, you can go.”
Mr. Trooper: “Now.”
As we pull away, “Thank you!”
Once my mother and I were alone,“What was that?”
Me: “I don’t know?”
Did we stop? Of course not, we drove on until we could not stand it any longer, at which point we went to the Garmen to find us a hotel. A Best Western popped up, Go it was.
O dear life, your humor is so off at times. We followed the mono-toned voice to this motel looking place on a nothing happening back-road in North Carolina. Folks it was trashy, but we figured since we were exhausted that it wouldn’t hurt to look at the room.
When I turned on room 145’s lights, I thought, I’d rather drive all night than deal with this retched room. I walked back to reception, as I passed our car I shook my head hard, so my mother knew it was shit. When I handed the key over and politely said, “No, thank you,” I got:
Mr. Reception: “May I ask if there was something wrong with the room?”
Me: “Umm no. The room is finee. It’s just a little far from where we need to be.” (I suck at the lying)
Mr. Reception: “Where are you going?”
Mr. Reception: “Well, that’s only an hour and a half from here, you might as well stay.”
Me: “Yeah ahh, the thing is, this road back here is little scary, I’m used to more activity.”
Mr. Reception: “I’m sorry Miss. But this the country.”
Me: “You know, my mother is in the car, she’s old, she doesn’t like stuff like this. I think I’m just going to go. Thanks anyway.” (It was so awful. I did not know what to say.)
After this we booked a room at a Holiday Inn. Was it remarkable? No. But clean it was. I trust all tall buildings with elevators.