Growing up there were many Friday afternoons where we’d all pile into the car and head to South Carolina for a quick weekend visit to see our grandparents. Since Mom had to work on Sunday, we’d usually leave late afternoon or early evening to make the trip back home. After a mixture of happy playing, whining, laughing, and bickering the first couple hours– including Mom telling us through gritted teeth to sit on our hands, or reminding us “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”– Annie and Aubrey would end up falling asleep
next to on top of me.
Despite feeling so tired I could hardly think straight, I could never seem to fall asleep. Sometimes I felt jealous that I couldn’t rest, but usually I’d sit in the back seat behind my parents and try to listen in on their conversations. I always thought I was being sneaky and would try to close my eyes real quick if I noticed Dad eyeing the rearview mirror to see if any of us were still awake.
A little before we hit Pulaski I’d start to get the “car trip feeling.” You know, the one you used to get when you’d been riding in the car for five hours, squished up against the window? The one where you just don’t know if you can stand to be in the car another second longer? Your face scrunches up and you clench the muscles in your feet and legs because you can’t go anywhere but you really just want to please GET OUT OF THE CAR. Even though you know you’re on the home stretch of the trip, you just aren’t sure how much longer you can stand it.
I really don’t like this feeling. I think it might be one of the worst feelings ever, and today I definitely have it. It usually comes around when I am really missing someone a lot, and makes me feel helpless and really frustrated. Sometimes for me, the “car trip feeling” manifests itself in my words and actions, and things come out wrong because I’m so frustrated at the situation that caused the feeling in the first place. Other times, it makes me want to do something crazy like buy a plane ticket and go. If anyone knows what I’m talking about, it really just feels like an awful itch that you cannot scratch. It’s easy to forget that it’s temporary, because the “car trip feeling” can be grueling; it can feel miserable and like it won’t ever end.
The good news about the “car trip feeling” is that it doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the car pulls into the driveway. Your dad unbuckles you and carries you upstairs, then tucks you into bed. The car trip is over– finally. You can stretch your legs; you can close your eyes and sleep. It’s hard being away from the people I love, but being apart makes the time we do have together extra special and fun. It doesn’t make it any easier, but you know what they say, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”