I’ve never minded taking road trips alone. I like being able to control the music without complaint, the fact that no one makes fun of me when I stop too often to pee and that if I want to, I can ride in complete silence with only the steady blur of the center line to keep me company.
Yesterday I left early to go to Oklahoma City to watch my sister Laura read in Listen To Your Mother: Oklahoma City. I was already tired and still buzzing from Kansas City’s show the night before, but I was so excited to see Laura and to finally experience what it’s like to just sit in a LTYM audience and listen to others tell their story—without worrying whether I’ll start crying when I read mine or trip over my feet as I walk to the podium or about a gazillion other things I’ve worried about for the last two LTYM:KC shows—that I didn’t even bother to print directions or check the forecast before I left.
Who knew that it would top 100 degrees in Oklahoma City yesterday? Or that my car would suddenly decide that it doesn’t really need to push out cold air when I turn on the air conditioner? I’m pretty sure that it was my exhaustion, caffeine drip and the heat that combined that made my mind wander just a bit too much on the trip back home, because here’s just a small glimpse into what was going through it as I drove:
1—Dancing in the driver’s seat is a fantastic way to stay awake when all I wanted to do was pull over to take a nap. However, dancing in the driver’s seat and singing along to ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Lights’ and Paramore’s ‘Ain’t It Fun’ made me completely unaware that a truck with Texas plates and two far-too-friendly-men were paying a little too much attention until they followed me to a rest stop, pulled up alongside my car and said ‘you look like you’re having fun. Want some company? We can party.’
2—I kinda missed having a Thelma to my Louise, especially when the Ick Brothers pulled up. Plus, singing both parts to ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Lights’ makes me feel like I’m cheating on myself.
3—Leftover fancy schmancy pizza isn’t nearly as good as plain ol’ leftover sausage pizza. Wilted arugula and chewy pancetta: not even a little yummy, no matter how tasty it was an hour before.
4—Driving a 2000 Stratus with a radio and a cassette player sucks. Why is it that on road trips, I seem to find radio stations that play songs I haven’t heard in forever more than once in a four hour stretch? Last night’s offenders were ‘Beat It’ (twice), ‘I’ll Make Love to You’ (also twice) and ‘On the Dark Side’ a record of FOUR times. FOUR. That song shouldn’t have even been played four times in four hours in its heyday.
On the other hand, I also heard ‘Crocodile Rock’ three times, ‘I Will Survive’ twice, Blondie twice (‘Rapture’ and ‘Call Me’), a few Keith Urban tunes and four different Billy Joel songs. So I should probably stop complaining.
5—Jamming out to ‘FunkyTown’ is all fun and games until you go through too many miles that smell like skunk. With the windows down, because it’s 100 degrees and the air conditioner blows hot air onto your wilted, sad leftover pizza. Then it just starts to feel like God is mocking you through your obsolete stereo system.
6—It’s really creepy and a little scary to see what looks like either an enormous fire OR an ominous stormy sky to your right and not be able to tell which it is because the air doesn’t smell at all like fire. It’s equally creepy when, a couple of hours later, the air smells like fire but you can’t see one. Anywhere.
7–Sometimes, if you don’t hit the scan button quickly enough, you hear a little nugget on one of the umpteen different Bible thumper stations. My nugget: if God closes a door, don’t spend your time banging on it. Trust that those people belong locked up in a windowless room, and move on. Amen and hallelujah.
8—Every single drop of sweat, every yawn and even hiding inside the convenience store until the Ick Brothers drove off was worth the privilege of sitting at Will Rogers Theater and laughing, crying and nodding my head to the stories shared by some fierce and incredibly welcoming women. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.