I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. I drove most of 950 miles in 29.5 hours with four people I had just met–all for a critical 10 or 15 minutes and an important hour and a half following afterwards.
I have slept a lot today. I was so tired when I got in last night, but knew I had to eat something. I sat on the edge of my bed to eat my yogurt so that I could simply set it down when I was done and close my eyes. I slept about 9 hours then. I got up, got Rebar, and later ended up sleeping again for several hours in two nap sessions.
There are things I want to remember about this trip. One lesson I have learned from years of journaling is that things that you think you will never forget–you forget, despite the fact that you have the clearest memory of other random events. But, most of this experience is really not my story. I was just part of a road trip. Therefore, I have been struggling with framing and preserving these memories. This is my attempt. I will make a couple of posts about things that were significant to me, and you will know that they were part of the Extraordinary Road Trip.
We were on our way back home. The only reason I know this (timelines are already blurring) is because it was daylight. We drove down through the night. The people I was traveling with were very kind and warm, but a great deal of the conversation was in a language I do not, yet, understand. As I was thinking about this later, it was clear to me that a decision had to be made. Everyone in the car was fluent in these two languages except me and the elderly matriarch, and we each spoke the opposite language. One of us would be left out of the conversation, without translation, no matter which language was used. Given the relationships and the reason for our trip and the overall context, it was correct and appropriate that most of the time, the conversation was not in my language. I would vaguely listen for tone to gauge the emotional level in the car, and I was always proud of myself when I recognized words (I am trying to learn the language, among others). I guess it is not surprising, at my level, that the words I most often recognized were numbers and “Monday.” But, lots of conversation exhausts me and I was focused on driving new roads, so I was frequently existing in my own Venn-type parallel universe that had a bit of important overlap.
I tell you all this because I think it heightened my tendency to follow my own usual patterns with less self-consciousness than I might have otherwise felt in a car full of people I had just met. There were times when I was just in my own zone until they would reach out and invite me into the shaded overlapping area of our Venn Universes.
We were in one those sections of long road trips where you travel secondary roads to get from one major highway to another. We were in a long line of cars on an off-ramp, with approximately seven vehicles in front of me and I could not see the end of the line of vehicles behind me. This was a really long traffic light, and I casually observed an elderly man, with a grey beard, worn clothes, and a cardboard sign that read “Traveling Vet.” I usually just go with my gut in situations like this, but more often than not, if I have some cash, I share a little. I noticed that no one in the cars in front of me was offering anything and I was recalling that I did, indeed, have some ones in my wallet. Absentmindedly, I reached for my wallet-smartphone combination that was providing the GPS directions, and pulled out a dollar bill while I rolled down the car window.
All of sudden the background hum of the conversation in the language I did not understand stopped and there was a chorus of “Kindra, here” as everyone was handing their own contributions up to me to pass out the window. I am fairly certain that, at that point, my traveling companions in the middle and passenger side of the back seat could not even see the intended recipient of the money they were offering. Simultaneously, the white truck in front of me was holding out its offering to the man. After Traveling Vet gratefully recieved our little collection from my hand, he continued up behind my car with a purpose in his step that let me know someone in the cars behind me was also holding out their hand.
And then, everything resumed back the way it had been, without missing a beat.
And, I marveled and was grateful to be traveling with them.