I'm absolutely certain without the help of GPS I would never make it to the majority of my destinations. I remember the days of printing out directions and glancing down at each turn. That level of driving and reading combination took a lot of skill, and even more courage. Imagine relying on a piece of paper to get you somewhere safely without managing to go off the side of the road and get into an accident. While that was truly a time that should be logged in history, I am thankful that I no longer have to do that and equally thankful for the evolution of time along with the updates to technology.
When you see commercials of people preparing to travel by car everyone is smiling from ear to ear, singing a catchy tune while bobbing their heads left and right. I'm not saying this does not happen, but I am pretty sure it doesn't last the duration for cross-country road trips. Someone will surely have to stop to use the bathroom when no one else has to while another person is hungry and asking 'Are we there yet?' Whatever the destination, the car has a tank full of gas, you have mentally prepped yourself for this grueling drive and it's time for an adventure you will surely never forget!
Thirteen hours, nine minutes, 663 miles (ca. 1,067 km) is the time it would take me to drive from Georgia to Indiana. The time is inflated a bit due to traffic, so I prayed I would be able to beat that time. Am I really going to do this? That is the question I asked myself about 47 times before I pumped myself up to reply with a yes. My sister and friend sweetened the idea when they said they would meet me in Kentucky so that I would have someone to talk to the remainder of the way. Loading up the car one would think I was coming with a few kids in tow and possibly even a husband, nope just me and my favorite muse, Max. It's been about 24 years since I traveled across the states with a cat, this is going to either be a very loud ride or a very messy one. I truly hoped for neither. The worst part of it all was the fear on his face as I loaded him into the kennel. The initial plan was to stay home for about a month but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I needed to stay longer. I decided against boarding Max for that length of time as I felt his time there would be rather stressful. Although I knew the across state journey would initially be uncomfortable for my pet, I knew he would be much happier being with me. Besides, I know how to make any space cozy, so let's ride! 🚗
With an extensive and kinda impressive checklist, I felt my packing skills had already made this the most successful journey of all time.
One last check of the house before I hit the road. Inside air temperature has been adjusted, blinds are closed, small appliances unplugged and the alarm has been set. The moment I closed the garage and hit the gas Max started meowing and didn't truly stop until hour 4 on the road. By this time I had finally made it through Chattanooga, Tennessee. The day was just getting started for all the work commuters and the sun was at its peak. It was at that moment I realized there was no turning back now. I looked at Max, and he looked at me as if I had lost my mind but I couldn't stop the smile from forming on my face as I instantly felt a sense of accomplishment. This was my very first solo trip back home since I moved away in 1996. I would always fly or make that drive with someone. I knew it could be done however there was a bit of fear but I knew God would be with us the entire way.
By the time I reached Louisville, Kentucky I was exhausted. My eyes felt heavy and I wondered how people pulled off trips like this and seemed to do it with ease. I pulled into the meeting spot and reclined my seat but I couldn't truly get comfortable. Dozing off for just a second I knew the anticipation was keeping me wide awake. The feeling of being closer and closer to home was all I needed to keep going. By the time my sister and friend arrived I was ready for leg two of the trip and so thankful for their presence. With approximately 3 1/2 hours remaining, a playlist that I had heard over and over, my exhaustion turned into excitement. I probably forgot to mention my mom had no idea I was coming. Surprise!
As you begin to approach your destination, you get a bit cocky and turn the GPS off as if without it you would have known where you were going. After 11 1/2 hours we were finally home! Ah, home sweet home! There was no greater feeling than walking through the front door of the house I grew up in to rush to see my mother. 'Hi mom!' The look on her face is forever engrained into my memory. She was shocked to say the least especially when she saw her favorite feline grandson Max.
When I travel I often think of my return trip even before I arrive. The stay is typically a few days here and there, so I make sure to confirm who will be giving me a ride to the airport and the exact time we will need to leave in order to make it on time. I had a conversation with my mother and said I wanted to be here with you and I think I will stay about a month if that is ok with you. She said sure, whatever you like! Now that the arrangements have been made I could finally get settled and shock mom even more with all the things I was about to unload from the car. Let the fun begin!
I'm not close enough to simply drive down the street and be with my family at a moments notice so it felt great to finally be able to reach out and touch them all. The memories and the love only grow as you get older and times like this hold much more meaning. We laughed, hugged one another, didn't always agree, cooked together, and created something real. I started missing my dear family, the familiar smells of the house, the backyard and it's amazing garden, the memories of playing in the neighborhood with all the kids I grew up with all before it was time to leave. How is it possible to miss something while you are in the midst of creating such amazing memories? It was easy for me because I didn't want the good times to end. As the days approached and the countdown to return to Georgia grew near I realized with one week remaining that it was time to start preparing the car for the return trip home. By the time there were only a couple of days left I would quietly cry at night thinking this would stifle the tears when it was truly time to leave my family. Boy was I wrong!
Divine intervention is defined as 'Direct and obvious intervention by God in the affairs of humans'. You see, as much as I promised myself when this pandemic began that I would not write about the craziness of this year, how could I not? How could I not give in to the very reason I decided to make this wondrous journey home. That's no question my friends, it's a statement. I am a believer in all things happening for a reason and I most certainly couldn't be more thankful for all that has transpired this year, the love that is my family, and the directions that have led me and helped to guide my life.
The time has come and I must say bye for now. I know it's coming, just a matter of who will be the first to cry. Thanks sister for making me burst out in tears, I miss you too. My mother cannot see any of her children hurting or sad and therefore it will result in her tears beginning to flow as well. Oh, sweet mother of mine, I'll be back soon, I know the way now because all roads lead home. ❤️
AJ writes & blogs from her home in Atlanta, GA. You can also find her work as a contributing writer at www.groovmagazine.com
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman