I left work upset last night.
I'm not sure why I was bummed out. I'm in the midst of a 25 day work marathon and clocked over 14.5 hours yesterday. People were coming into the Community Center generally upset about the fact that it was closing and then it stayed open and then it was closing and now it's staying open for an undetermined amount of time. Someone threw money at me when I said they had to pay for either a day or a month membership. I was working with my best friend who said something that I took completely out of context. I drove out of the parking lot at 10:35pm, frustrated and angry at everything but nothing in particular.
I hopped onto 275 for the 25 minute drive home. I know 275 north well, I drive it frequently. I know the way the road curves, when the lanes end, where the cops sit and wait depending on what time of day it is. I know to stay to the right after Eight Mile so I can exit onto M-5 east and head home.
Last night I stayed to the left.
As I guided my steering wheel to take my car onto 96 west, I had a moment of HEY THERE, IT'S 11PM AND YOU HAVE TO BE AT WORK TOMORROW MORNING. The thought was fleeting and replaced with the realization that it's 11pm and there's no one waiting at home for me.
I passed the Novi Road exit and turned the radio up and rolled the windows down. This was freedom! The wind was whipping my hair and Jason Mraz was strumming a guitar. I could go anywhere. I would have to stop for gas at some point but that was further down the road. I could drive all the way to Holland and find a hotel on Lake Michigan. I could stay to the right and merge onto 23 heading north to whatever is north of Brighton. I could take a turn onto 69 south and then onto 94 west and land in Chicago. I could go ANYWHERE.
Last summer, I went to Wisconsin. We drove and dropped a then-eight-year-old off at camp outside of Milwaukee before going further north, ending up in a sleepy little town and a cabin on a lake. The drive to the cabin was back roads and wind turbines, cows and dive bars. I daydreamed as we passed huge farmhouses with acres of land surrounding them. "The older I get, the more I think I could live in the middle of nowhere," I said. It was met with laughter and "there is no way you could live this far away from a big city." He was right and we drove on. We could go anywhere.
The cabin was bigger than the two of us needed without internet or TV. We giggled over the Hootie and the Blowfish CDs the owners provided and celebrated building a fire by ourselves. It rained one night, tapping on the windows as we played Rummy and laid around and read. The morning after, I woke up earlier than I should have on vacation. Wrapping myself in a sheet, I made my way to the screened in porch, letting the breeze off the water whisper on my skin. I breathed in, inhaling the scent of pine needles and damp ground and early morning summer air, wishing this moment, this vacation, this reconnection with a man I loved so much wouldn't end.
The moment ended. The vacation ended. The reconnection ended.
Last night I took a breath as I was nearing Howell, still unsure of where I was going or what I was doing. It smelled like pine needles and humidity and late night summer air. The road in front of me was endless with few cars in my way. Thoughts of mountains and oceans and starting over somewhere without any ghosts stretched ahead, beckoning me to stop and refill my tank but then just. keep. going.
I exited, turned around, and headed east.
I could go ANYWHERE. I went home.