[nearly two months late, but written in (hopefully) present tense]
The nostalgia is strong with this trip. Achingly so, but I knew it would happen. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was how out of practice I was at travelling – or, more specifically, this kind of travelling that became the bane of my existence from age four to sixteen. Get on a plane, get in a car, go to one place, get in the car, go to another – hours would be lost this way but, thanks to a discovery in a supermarket car park, a sure fire way of putting me to sleep was switching the car on. Not that the act of sleep was ever the problem, rather the “going to”.
As a result, if I sit in the car (or in the back where it is substantially worse), my conversation drops to naught upon instant. Even if you ask me something, or we were talking before the car, my answers are minimal. Not on purpose, but it becomes an absolute struggle to maintain any sentence longer than ten words. It isn’t intentional, but a matter of habit developed at a time I no longer remember.
Because of the long-haul car journeys between MI and IL, or Edinburgh and Guildford, music was always a purposeful feature: entertainment, and keeping Laidig Snr awake once Jnr passed out (remember, car = sleep). There’s a reason I knew all the words to Barenaked Ladies’ ‘One Week’ at age seven before most (and yes, it is still my party piece). Fast forward to age twelve/thirteen, when Laidig Jnr starts to get the bus to school, and has a CD player. On a bus. And it’s early in the morning. See, now, car doesn’t necessarily send Laidig Jnr to sleep anymore. Instead, with music in toe, Laidig Jnr tunes out and loses herself to whatever plays in her ears, rendering her ill-disposed to communication.
Bringing it back to this particular road trip, not driven for eighteen years, there is a new ingredient to this concoction: sinuses. I left Scotland with a cold I could have sworn I had shrugged off. I boarded a plane with it, minimal sleep to go on, and stared at a tiny screen for nearly eight hours. Another two hours in the car (thanks, Chicago), time zones down the toilet and a strong desire to throw up, we finally eat, sleep, and everything is fine. Except the flat we’re staying in is incredibly humid. Otherwise, we’re fine. Back in the car and it all comes flooding back. In fact, for this entire trip, all car journeys make me ill, which is unfortunate given America’s love for cars and highways. Essentially, I’ve developed motion sickness from nowhere.
Mix all of that together and what have you got? A terrible car companion. I won’t talk to you unless I’m spoken to, and if there’s music playing, I’ll keep my answers short so you’ll think I’m being rude when, really, I just want to listen to the music because the world in my head is much more entertaining when you aren’t talking. Besides, I feel rotten – if you love your car, you’ll want to keep my mouth shut.
[pictures taken at Michigan 4-H Children’s Gardens. Last time I was here, I was six, and everything seemed a lot bigger…]