By: Shannon Ralph
I spent quite a bit of time in my car today driving to and fro. Running errands. I was on highways and interstates and off-ramps and on-ramps. I sat in traffic that did not move. There was road construction to contend with, as well as the everyday congestion of city travel. The smell of asphalt and car exhaust somehow managed to seep its way into my car, despite the cool temperatures and my windows being tightly closed.
There used to be a time when driving around in my car was peace-inducing. It was relaxing. It was the way in which I decompressed after a stressful day. These days, car trips are more of a source of stress than a stress reliever. I curse more in the car than I do anywhere else on this planet. Road rage has become my standard operating procedure. My default setting when sitting in my car. I haven’t always been the red-faced, clenched-fist, rabid, cursing-like-a-drunken-sailor, hot mess of a rager I am now.
I spent most of my childhood wanting to move to the city. A city. Any city. I loved the tall buildings. I fell in love with the noise and the busyness. The diversity of people and sights and smells and sounds. I loved the sunshine glinting off glass windows thirty stories up. I fell in love with driving 70 miles an hour down an interstate. I was enamored of the city.
I still love the city. I truly enjoy living in Minneapolis. However, I realized this weekend how much I miss simple country roads. Out of the blue, I suddenly felt a deep and unyielding yearning for back roads. Two-lane roads that wind around the countryside rather than plow over it. Roads with numerous curves and sloping hills. Roads that pass tiny country churches. Roads that pass tumble-down barns and grazing livestock and murky ponds. Roads flanked on both sides by corn fields. Miles and miles of fences. Hired hands working in the tobacco. The kind of roads where I will inevitably get caught behind a tractor. Being waved around by the haggard man in overalls who always tips his hat at me. Windows rolled down. The sweet smell of freedom mingled with dirt and tobacco fields and grass and fresh air. Loud music blaring on the radio.
I miss roads that take me deep into the county. Off the beaten path. Off any and every path. I miss getting lost behind the wheel. I need to find me a country road and take off on a trip to nowhere. Perhaps the kids and I will take a drive today.
They will be so very excited.