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The Long, Long Drive

I left D.C. at 6pm.  It was going to be a terrible, long drive.

The choirs of hellacious honking is always enough to make me wish cars had mute buttons.  The abrupt – and often provocative – way the 95 South crowd like to cut people off can test even the most patient of Christian men.  I imagine too many disciples have declared “JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL” while they stopped navigating with their left hand to hold it high out the window to flesh out their frustration with a big middle finger.

Clearly, I don’t like to leave DC with the 5 o’clock crowd.

I had a long drive ahead of me though.  I wasn’t just headed back to Richmond.  I was headed back to West Virginia.  I would stop briefly to pick up Amanda, but afterwards, her and I would be driving down to the shadows of the coalfields for my Homecoming church service back at my dad’s church.

I pulled up to the apartment about 9:30.  “Babe, there is no way I can drive to West Virginia.” I said as I walk through the door.

Amanda is clearly not excited about this but kind enough to help. “I guess I’ll have to drive us then.”

After I tie up final details to leave, it’s almost 11pm.  We’re finally on the road though!

I’ve been on the road since 6:00pm, and I start to lust at the thought of a little rest. My heart is salivating for a little sleep.

I begin to nestle my shoulder into the comfort of the passenger seat.  I lean the seat back.  I close my eyes.

Now for the last 10 minutes, Amanda has been talking.  She’s giving me updates on Facebook statuses, her friends, her family, and her hobbies.  I, on the other hand, am struggling to listen.

It becomes obvious to her that I have become more interested in sleeping than her updates.  “Babe, aren’t you listening to me anymore?” She asks.

“Umm…”  I feel guilty.

“I want to talk to you, while I’m driving.”  She tells me this with a soft, unsatisfied whine.

“I need sleep more than you need to talk.”  I think this to myself.  I try to score some sympathy points.

“Honey, I just drove from DC after working all day.  Can’t I please get a little bit of sleep?  If I have to stay awake, what’s the point of you driving?”  I feel I’ve made a strong case.

“Oh.”  I hear a sense of guilt surface in her voice. “I understand then.”

In the silence of my mind I yell, “VICTORIOUS!!!”  I sit back in the seat, and I begin to doze off – confident of the rest I’m about to receive.

… or so I thought.

While I was in the limbo realm between sleep and half-awake, I hear Amanda begin to complain about her eye sight. “I’m really having trouble seeing the road and the cars tonight.”  Shes’ talking to herself – but the concerns about her eyesight might have you worried if you were in the car trying to sleep, as well.

I don’t know if you ever been so tired that paranoia sets in – but this is where I was.  The thought of Amanda blindly driving us off the road was not something a paranoid conscience can leave alone.

“Everything looks so blurry tonight..”  1 minute later –  Amanda taps her breaks. “That car is going slow!” She declares. She hits her breaks harder.  This time it scares me bad enough that I sit up.

With a panicked look in my face, I sit high up in the seat and stare at her!  “WHAT’S WRONG?!?!”  I react a little incoherently.

“These people don’t know how to drive babe!”  She says trying to explain it.  But she doesn’t stop there.  “Hey, did I tell you that someone got bit by a shark at that place we went on vacation last year in Florida?”   Skillfully, she has caused me to wake up and sit up.

“No, Amanda.  You didn’t.”  I say irritated.  “I’m going to go back to sleep though.”

“Oh okay.”  She says.

In a few moments of silence – I feel the lush coma of rest flirting with my body, but before i’m able to drift away, I hear a familiar voice in the back of my head.  “I’m so tired.  I can barely see tonight.”   I try to ignore the voice.  I lay low in snuggle into the corner.  Silence.

Maybe she will let me sleep.

And then she hits the breaks.. harder this time.

I sit up suddenly with my heart racing a bit shocked.  “What’s happening?” I ask, disoriented as to what is going on.

“Babe, I’ve got to use my brakes.”  She explains with innocence – but I suspect conspiracy.

I lay back down into the warmth of my captain seat.  Once again, minutes pass me by as I try to reclaim the lost sleep I was pursuing so valiantly.

We’ve been on the road a couple of hours now.  Sudden braking and background conversation has created a limbo of tensions that is seeking to claim my time to sleep as its prize.  Then Amanda says something that really scares me.

“OH NO!”  I leap up in fear.

“What’s wrong????”  I’m a bit panicked – due to my sleep deprivation.

“I was doing 95 miles per hour for a second!”  She said laughing a bit.  “That was close! I don’t want  a ticket.”  Explaining this I felt like I was in a movie.

“Are you serious?”  I ask.  At this point, I’m about to give up on my sleep.  I had hoped to sleep a bit on the way so that i could drive the curvy parts as  we went into the hallows of the Coalfields, but at this rate, it wasn’t happening.  My desire for sleeping is having its way with my patience, and I’m struggling to hold  it together.

“Babe!!! How am I supposed to sleep with the constant breaking, the ‘I can’t see comments.”, and now we’re going 95 MPH!!!”  Finally, I’ve let my conspiracy theory out.  She’s conspired to keep me from sleeping. I have said it.

“If you don’t like the way I’m driving then you drive! I’m only driving so you can sleep!”  She said.

In greater frustration, I lean back over into my corner.  Angry attempts to sleep are not fruitful.  Then Amanda says something that no passenger in a car ever wants to hear. . .

“I”VE HIT A WALL!”  She declares this so loud that something must be going wrong!  I’m thinking she’s finally did it! She’s done and went and took us off the road. I leap up again.

“WHAT???”   She looks at me like I’m dumb.

“You know! I hit a wall.”  Trying to explain the expression.  “I’m tired.  I hit the tired wall where you don’t want to go on.”

“ARE YOU MESSING WITH ME????”  I ask.

She looks at me.  I swear she wants to smile.  “I’m sorry, but you know what I mean.”

I was in a paradox.  I couldn’t drive because I needed to sleep so Amanda had to drive, but Amanda’s driving was keeping me from sleeping.  I had no escape.

So with all this in mind – I gave up on sleep.  I pulled the seat into the upright position. With a few minutes of me sitting up, Amanda began to talking again.  Asking questions, talking about her day, and a whole lot more.

After we drive about 20 miles into the coalfields navigating the curves, I began to doze once again. I should have known better. I glanced up in the little town of Pineville to see a mountain turn that we were not slowing down for.

“BABE!!! TURN!!!” I yell.

She makes the turn. “Oops. Almost missed that one.”  She says with a laugh. “Told you I hit the tired wall!” She laughs.

With the case for her driving buddy clearly present, I surrender myself  to her needs.  We make the drive together, and I pick on her about the journey we just went through.

It’s 3AM now.  My 10 hour DC to Richmond to Brenton trip has been completed.  Amanda and I are both weary, but as always, we have had fun.

I’m still not convinced that the braking wasn’t on purpose though. 😉

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