Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bring on the Road




I love road trips. I love the freedom of packing bags with no regard to weight, loading them down with clothes and large bottles of shampoo and sharp objects. (Take that, TSA) I love packing a cooler with snacks and preparing playlists of music suitable for the road. I always take a pillow (because I am a sleeper) and a blanket (because my husband I have very different opinions of what "cold" feels like). I do not bother looking cute. Road trips are the time for yoga pants and sweatshirts. Very little makeup, if any, and a messy ponytail. I like to fit right in when we stop at truck stop restrooms.

There is something to be said for driving the same stretch of road over and over. I have traveled this road between Dallas and Nashville countless times. I love the familiarity. I love the way the flat blankness of Dallas landscape gives way to the towering pine trees of East Texas and then to the rolling hills of Arkansas and West Tennessee. I love that the trip is broken up into almost perfect quarters. Three hours to Texarkana, three to Little Rock, three to Memphis, three to Nashville... with lingering stops, anyway.

There are memories all along these highways. Soulman's BBQ, the barn-like restaurant with a red roof where I have always wanted to stop but never had the time. The spot in Mt Pleasant where I ran out of gas, and had to call the local police station for help. The rest area where I spent the night in my old mini-van, wrapped in a newly-purchased blanket from Walmart, because I was too tired to keep driving. Brown's Family Restaurant in Benton, Arkansas where I changed my nephew's dirty diaper on the table next to us because they did not have changing stations in the bathroom. I do bold things when I am angry. The motel in Hazen, Arkansas where I met my dad and brother to pick up my nephews from them. I left Tennessee a childless woman and I returned a mother of three. The exit in Jackson that leads to Union University where we visited Mary her first year in college. The Steak 'n Shake in Germantown that became a regular stop for me thanks to the double chocolate fudge sundae shake. Sinful. The hotel I stayed in with Mary and Elisa on our trip to bring baby Cody to join his big brothers in Tennessee. The weigh station on the outskirts of Nashville where Craig and I discovered (on moving day) that my U-Haul was overloaded and where we accidentally tore the bumper off of my old Ford Focus. That was a memorable trip. Dodging tornadoes and listening to radio weather warnings and sirens all the way through northern Arkansas with my mom. Hearing Kid Rock's Only God Knows Why for the first time and deciding that I liked it. Dozens of meals and experiences and memories and stops in between for water, m&m's (my favorite travel snack since childhood), leg stretching, restroom breaks, coffee, diaper changing breaks.

Today this trip looks different. I have no children to tend to. I have never made this drive with Jake before. We are driving the world's smallest rental car. So far, he has chosen the music, and my ears have endured hours of 90's rock. That's what love does. It makes you listen to Everclear, Tonic, and Counting Crows when you want to listen to Mindy Smith. This is where our age difference shows up, by the way. Here and on our birth certificates. That's about all. But we are stopping at new places and making new memories to add to my collection. And I am sleeping off and on, thankful that I am not the one needing cup after cup of caffeine to make it through. So I say goodbye to Texas and to being thirty-five. Bring on thirty-six... I am not afraid of it. Bring on the fun. Bring on Nashville. Bring on the road.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Somewhere on I-40

Monday, March 4, 2013

Dark Circles and Noisy Neighbors



“I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it.” 
 Shirley Conran

I like to sleep.  No, I love to sleep.  Sleep is my favorite.  I have always heard my mother say that I required more sleep than the average kid.  And if I didn't get enough sleep, illness always crept in.  It was that way when I was five.  It is the same for me at thirty-five.  I can sleep in a car.  I can sleep on a train.  I can sleep on a plane.  I can sleep in class (unless I am the teacher... haven't mastered that one yet).  I can sleep in church.  In a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse... you get the point.  I have never understood people that couldn't sleep.  Insomnia was always something other people had.  Sleepless nights have seemed so foreign to me.  I have the innate ability to put my head on a pillow, fall asleep in under five minutes, and stay asleep until it is time to wake up.  Longer, if I am honest.  Much longer.  I hate to wake up.  

Several months ago, when I first found out I was pregnant, I had my first encounters with insomnia.  I searched online, scoured books, and finally asked the doctor if it was normal.  Totally normal, he said.  Between anxiety and hormones and multiple trips to the bathroom (I had no idea that was something experienced in early pregnancy), I was a sleepless mess.  I was so tired, but could not sleep.  I would wake up each night, praying that I would be able to revert back to my old self, the sleeper.  I did not.  I would be hot.  Then cold.  Then thirsty.  Then back to the bathroom.  Then to the couch for hours of Frasier reruns.  It was exhausting.  Rest escaped me, until daylight, of course, when real things needed to be done.    

Thankfully, the doctor said I could safely take Unisom for the insomnia, and before long, I was back to myself.  Resting comfortably.  

Fast forward to our big apartment move.  Then to the loss of our tiny baby five days later.  And then the discovery that our upstairs neighbors are so, so loud.  I cannot sleep.  I have stopped taking the Unisom because it makes me nervous when I think that I could become dependent on a pill to do something for my body that it should do all by itself.  I don't want my body to forget how to sleep all by itself.  And so I suffer. 

I have tried to go to bed early.  I have tried to get a full eight hours of sleep, knowing that my mind and body will be better for it.  But inevitably, the noisy boys that live above me start to really live right about midnight.  And so I awaken to the sound of the vacuum cleaner and furniture being moved across the room and their dog (which they deny having) scampering across the floor and pounding footsteps that make me hear "fee-fi-fo-fum" in my head.  And I want to cry.  And scream.  And say bad words.  And call their mothers and tell them that the boys need a spanking.  And a lesson in manners.

I have tried to outlast them.  After all, I love staying up late if I can sleep in a lot little.  But on school nights, it just doesn't make sense.  Staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. is just not an option.  So I give up.  I go to bed, knowing that I will be woken up multiple times.  Knowing that no amount of complaining or calling the police will help.  I have tried everything I can think of.  I am doomed to a life of sleeplessness.  At least as long as I live here.  So if you see me sometime in the next four and a half months, I will probably look tired.  And you won't have to wonder.  You'll know why.  Jake is not snoring.  I am not staying up late watching reruns of Friends.  I am simply the victim of the noisiest neighbors this side of the Mississippi.  

In the meantime, I will nap.   I will drink coffee.  I will hit the snooze button.  I will sleep late any time I can.  And if you catch me sleeping in church, please just pretend I'm praying.  

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