When I travel, I have one goal that pre-empts everything else — efficiency.
In other words, how can I cover the most ground in the shortest distance and time possible. Of course, this leaves no time for collecting the experiences of travel. There is a starting point and an ending point. There is nothing in the middle — no lingering, no exploring, no surprises. In fact, half the fun is getting there sooner than the GPS predicted.
So when I set off from Vermont en route to Chapel Hill, N.C. with the idea that the blonde and I would “meander” I had my doubts that I would be able to resist the “beeline” impulse and, instead, actually relax and enjoy a trip planned around “whatever,” “wherever,” and “whenever.”
Surprisingly, it’s worked. Instead of looking for the straightest line, I’ve found some great roads and breathtaking scenery. And a confused wrong turn taken in a downpour becomes simply another enjoyable route to the same destination. The contrast is stark. When I joined an interstate for a brief 70-mile leg, it was like landing on another planet, its inhabitants obsessed with speed, seemingly panicking at their lack of margin. It was unnerving.
I’m enjoying myself. I’ve reconnected with an old friend and reminisced about the origins and sustainability of our friendship over three decades. I’ve been reminded that this is still a very rural, untouched country. I’ve spent an afternoon on a college campus chatting with students and faculty, feeling every one of my forty-four years. I’ve given myself margin, and not just in time, but in spirit and experience as well.
I also realized that my car is not the delicate flower I tell myself she is, and that she’ll be okay in all kinds of weather.
And, even though it rained all day yesterday, it wasn’t so bad — I came this close to Intercourse…Pennsylvania.