As I write this post, I’m hours away from heading on a long drive up to a different neck of the woods in Connecticut. I likely won’t have the chance to spend much time not driving today, considering the length of this drive. It’s a fairly normal commute that I take on Fridays or Saturdays, up to UConn’s campus and then a little bit further on the highway to a small ranch house where chaos looms and nothing else matters but what takes place in that location, for the short time that we’re there on the weekend before returning to work on Monday. It’s a short reprieve where the idea of reprieves is valued more than anything. It’s a world of total deconstruction; meaning is meaningless and nothing is everything to us.
After a long drive, the last thing I want to do is worry about what’s coming next, or what to do after this struggle is all done for. Driving fills me with patience, determination, and readiness. Long drives, the kind that really fill you with dread beforehand but during the drive itself you’re less anxious about it, can really drain you. Driving without traffic in the way, though, is the perfect, easygoing experience after a long day of work. I get to listen to music, podcasts, or other auditory entertainment on the way to a destination that I know will welcome conversation about all the weirdest and craziest things I heard. That’s one of the beauties of being friends with people who appreciate the small things; you can laugh and joke about whatever you want, and no one will judge you for bringing up a topic that’s a bit outlandish or unusual. In fact, it’s welcomed more than anything. The drive is all that separates you between that world and the world of work.
For a long time, I used to pretend that I was a good driver, even though the more likely situation is that I’m a fairly lucky driver. Except for one time when I accidentally bumped someone’s car in the Branford Starbucks parking lot, I hadn’t gotten in any major accidents or collisions. One time, when driving up to UConn, I narrowly avoided getting totaled on the highway when my brakes blew out, and I had to pull over to the exit ramp and wait, patiently, for AAA to arrive, as my phone battery slowly ticked away at its last life. Needless to say, I was pretty stressed out by this, and it transformed my evening into a night of driving home in the passenger seat of a tow truck. I remember stopping at a gas station and picking up hot fries.
So, when I say that I’m a good driver, what I really mean is that I know how to react in emergency situations to lessen the potential impact of whatever accident is about to happen, or won’t happen. But that’s not always true, especially not nowadays. Accidents happen all the time, on the highway, on the roads, anywhere. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the need to step out and talk with the person who hit you or whom you hit, especially while cars are blaring around you, sirens and horns and angry passengers on the road behind you. As someone with anxiety, that feeling gets stressful very quickly.
In reality, I’m not a very good driver. I still don’t know how to reverse that well, and when I take turns, it’s easy to forget to put my signal on when no one is around me. Obeying the rules should be easy, but sometimes they slip your mind because you’re so focused on other things that preoccupy you. It’s okay though. It’s going to be okay.
I talked about my commute in a separate blog post, but today I’ll be discussing, more specifically, the dreaded highway.
When I first started driving, at the age of 17, I was afraid of the highway. I never went on the highway during any of my on-road exhibitions before getting my license, so I had to learn the ropes after passing the driver’s test. To be fair, I haven’t reversed or backed up into a spot since I was 17. I’ve done plenty of three-point turns and parallel parks, but going backwards has never been a favorite of mine.
Nowadays, I rely on the highway for pretty much everything. It’s how I get to work and how I get home from work. It’s also how I navigated my way home when driving back from UConn many times without my GPS available; just knowing what exit to take and when to transfer onto which interstate highway was enough to get me home all those times. Being familiar with the highway gives you an almost unlimited freedom of travel. It’s worth learning how to drive on it, if anything just for that. I mention this because I know a few people who refuse to go on the highway, who are so scared of it that they will never be seen there in their whole lives. It’s kind of a shame, given the highway’s amazing utility.
When I drove to Boston this past weekend, we took I95 the entire way there, and then on the way back, we transferred all over the place: I90, I84, I91, route 15, I95. So many Is; it was mind-boggling to travel that way, but it was scenic and interesting to explore. Google Maps took us in a completely different direction from what we were used to, and we ended up driving past my friends’ place up at UConn.
After hanging out at my friend’s house in North Haven over the weekend, I had a really unfortunate experience that haunted my Sunday and made it infinitely worse than it ever needed to be. Thankfully, Alex and I were able to salvage it for our own gain and made the drive worthwhile for us, but still, you can’t help but think about all the time wasted. All the experiences not fulfilled or left unfinished. It’s a bit depressing to think back on time wasted for a simple mistake, something easily preventable, but it’s better to move on and move forward, as I’ll be doing by writing about the experience in this blog post.
What happened is, I hung out over my friend’s house and drove back in the early morning, around 4am. Yes, very late but I was wired on coffee and felt completely fine, so don’t worry about my driving! In fact, the driving is the crux of this whole experience, and after all is said and done, I have to be a good driver, right? So, I lost my medicine bag, filled with all my important medications and more, and realized that I left it in North Haven. I found this out as I was unpacking my backpack before going to bed at 5am. I went to bed knowing I would have to drive back and forth to North Haven again after waking up, which I would eventually do with Alex’s companionship. We listened to The Adventure Zone together, caught up on lost episodes, and picked up some food and smoothies from Claire’s Corner Copia in New Haven, our favorite local restaurant and eatery. It was nice to drive together, nice to listen to podcasts together, and nice to enjoy some food from one of our old favorites. All in all, not a bad day, just an annoying day.