on the road

i grew up in the philadelphia suburbs, and my grandma lived in pittsburgh.  growing up, my family spent many a long car ride driving across pennsylvania, with my sister, brother and i poking, kicking and generally annoying the smack out of one another.  my parents used to say that if we ever made the six hour trip without fighting, we would all go to disney world.

we never did.

rather, we never took that family trip.  i know for a fact we eventually started ignoring liking  each other and grew out of the cross-state cage match on wheels, but i guess by that time the magic kingdom had lost its luster.

in the past 2+ weeks, i have spent nearly 20 hours in the car with james, criss-crossing pennsylvania twice.  these trips were not without fits of crying (his, not mine), but on the whole, they were markedly pleasant drives.  instead of traveling feeling like a chore or waste of time, it was the opposite.

all that time to myself was a rare gift.  just me, the (sometime sleeping) baby, and the open road.

time to think.  to be quiet.  to pray.

time to breathe in views of rolling hills and farm land.

time to sing loudly to 90s radio rock and much neglected cds (no i don't own an ipod), and who cares what travelers in the other lanes think?

uninterrupted hours of listening to npr (news, this american life, wait wait don't tell me, prairie home companion...my own little nerd heaven!)

i am a mother of two small children.  completing one load of laundry from start to finish can feel like an insurmountable task with all the distractions of an ordinary day.  life is chaotic.  quiet is rare.

who would have thought i'd find my happy place on the pennsylvania turnpike?

i know these moments are numbered.  soon enough our family of four will make the trek, and james and dylan will be the ones poking and kicking.  perhaps jim will be the one threatening to "pull this car over!"

for this brief moment in time, i will remember that 270-odd mile stretch of highway as the improbably lovely place in which God and quiet, public radio, sing-alongs, and time alone with my sweet babe coexist.  and i am grateful.

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