Road Trip! An Old-World Pleasure

by Kevin Burton

    Found a little note in my briefcase last Thursday morning.  It reads, “Got the hurry turned down to minimum, the worry off altogether.”

   And this is in my handwriting.  Wow! 

   It appears that this notion came from my brain at some point in the medium-distant past. 

   Oh merciful God, please hasten the day when this notion is a reality in my life; when this vessel, if you will, is sturdy enough to hold hot gravy.

   Ooowee! What a way to start the morning. Got to be a road trip day!

   It’s been so long. How great is this?

   I had taken these things for granted. Got wheels, got gas money.  The highway has always been a close and ever-present friend. Never unavailable. Those big green signs point the way. And really, sometimes any old way will do.

   “No particular place to go,” croons Chuck Berry, the poet laureate of America, so anointed by Eric Burdon of the Animals. 

   You know the song I’m sure and the care-free feeling it evokes.  What a joy to reach back into the old world for a quintessentially American pastime.

   Well I’m not sure about getting all the way to care-free in the virus era. But we can at least travel down that road. Last week we did.

   We went into the next county to see my in-laws. If my notes are correct, the last time I had been there was Feb. 15. My wife went out once in early March.

   What a pleasure to take a shower with an actual destination in mind, to put the quarantine uniform aside, if only for half a day.

   In my beep baseball years I remember the sublime feeling of “getaway day.” All the details had been wrestled into place.  The vans were in motion and the music was on. 

   “Lift me won’t you lift me, above the old routine..”  are the lyrics from “Jazzman” by Carole King.

   It was a slow deep breath that I badly needed.  That’s kind of how I felt last week.

   I say “kind of” because the virus has changed everything. Even a deep breath now isn’t necessarily a good thing. What exactly am I breathing in?    

   Convenience stores aren’t nearly as convenient are they?

   If you have parents in their 80s as we do, you know what a joy it is to see them. But you also know there are always issues to deal with. It starts with health and goes on from there.

   We sat in their living room with our masks on.  To maintain social distancing we ate lunch in the living room instead of joining them at the table.   But we got to spend time, in person, with our loved ones for the first time in nearly half a year. 

   I think we are beginning to steal back some things the virus has stolen from us.  But we’re trying to be safe about it.  Maybe this feeling of building an “enhanced new normal” is a new element to that getaway-day feeling.

   On the way home we took a side trip to a butcher shop that is the best in Kansas as far as I know.  We did our best to keep distance in a smallish store with other people not respecting our space.  We bought more than we would usually, thinking we might not be back for a long, long time.   

   That note I found? It was almost certainly meant to be a song lyric.  It’s not a song I am likely to finish. That place of un-hurry and un-worry is a place I visit as a tourist, not my home territory.

   One definition of home is “the place where if someone stops you and asks for directions, you can give them.”

   Even that definition holds the element of someone’s being in motion, on the road.  Sunday Page 7 stays on this theme, with a new way to look at our travels.

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