Tomorrow, I'm leaving to drive 1300+ 78rpm records out the the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they are going to be the centerpiece of the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture. This represents a small fraction of my total collection, so this is only the first of many such drives, I suspect. I've gotten the records loaded into the car (bless MiniMoves and More for their willingness to do such small jobs -- small for them, huge for us!) and all the electronic files safely stored on an external drive. Now all I have to do before leaving tomorrow afternoon is get all my personal stuff together.
I love road trips. Since I was a child, taking pride in helping my dad navigate, following the AAA Trip-Tik and keeping track of the family's expenses, I've loved the feeling of anticipation and adventure of setting out in the car. I could sit for hours (and did), looking out the window, trying to imagine what life was like in all the places we passed. When I became an adult, I loved doing the driving, especially the ability to leave the designated path if something interesting caught my eye. In our travels, Carol and I especially love going to the ends of roads whenever we can. There's something very satisfying about that.
During my younger years, driving also became a supremely comforting activity. During the tumultuous years before Carol and I got together, I would spend hours driving around New England by myself. I'd turn on the radio or listen to tapes and follow the most circuitous, scenic pathways I could find, barely stopping to eat or take care of bodily functions. This was, in fact, pretty much the only time I successfully comforted myself regularly without food. I don't know exactly why it worked, but it did. Then I became a gigging musician, playing with the Wholesale Klezmer Band, which was based in Western Massachusetts, so I had to do a lot of driving for both rehearsals and gigs. While I usually enjoyed the drives to the venues where we performed, the drives home were less thrilling, especially in the middle of the night, and driving kind of lost its charm. Since I quit the band, most of my driving has been strictly functional, and the fact that until last month, our cars were both aged and kind of uncomfortable didn't make the prospect of taking to the roads very appealing.
But now, I'm filled again with that early excitement, and a brand-new, comfortable car with incredible amenities (XM radio, a fully-functional iPod connection, adjustable lumbar support) increases the likelihood that my imaginings will resemble the reality of the ride. I look forward to the long hours by myself, free to listen to whatever catches my attention in a moment, or to be still and think, or not.
In my younger years, when I hit the road, all I had to do was throw some clothes in a bag and walk out the door. Things aren't so simple now. Somewhere along the line I became incredibly high maintenance!
I have to pack all my medicine and nutritional supplements, enough for the whole time I'll be gone. I have to pack my CPAP machine and mask. I have to pack a fairly comprehensive selection of food, since my recently uncovered sensitivities make eating at the roadside service areas, or even most convenient restaurants, next to impossible. It will probably take me 10 minutes to pack my clothes, and 2-3 hours to get everything else ready. I guess that is one of the consequences of aging. I'm trying to feel grateful that I can take care of myself so well on the fly, rather than weighed down by all the restrictions and imperatives. But whatever I feel, tomorrow afternoon, as close to 2pm as I can make it, I'll be behind the wheel, heading west. And I'll be grinning my head off.
A hui hou.