Things I have done while making unnecessary detours during road trips:
Toured a snake farm.
Spent way too much money on an antique chair that I eventually had to leave by the side of the road because the ropes holding it on the top of my car kept coming undone. As we all know, an untied chair on top of a car is a hazard to other drivers on the highway as well as to all chickens trying to cross the road.
Tried a cajun pork crackling for the first time.
Bought tamales from a woman selling them on the side of the road whom I talked to long enough to figure out she was way happier than anyone I knew and she lived on pretty much zero money with eight kids in a trailer home in East Texas. The woman was joyous. Effervescent with satisfaction in the present. Everything the average white woman chases down everywhere from yoga rooms to corporate ladders and Lamaze classes, usually unsuccessfully. You can learn a lot from a woman on the side of the road—there’s a book title for you. Or maybe it should be ‘What you could learn if you stopped trying to be a know-it-all.’
Yes. That’s better.
Learned how to install windshield wipers. This was an unnecessary step in that particular trip because the gray clouds I saw in the distance where the reason I stopped, bought the wipers and put them in. Obviously I had forgotten that I was driving across Texas and only rarely do rain clouds actually equal rain.
Parked my car on the side of the road and fished for half an hour (without a permit) in order to prove that I was, in fact, a fisherwoman. We paid another fisherman on the side of the lake 10$ to borrow two poles and all I caught was a Taco Bell burrito wrapper but the next best thing to proving yourself a fisherwoman is proving yourself stubborn as hell.
Right now we are on the highway from Louisiana to Texas and I just realized it has been ages since I made a ‘pointless’ detour during a road trip. By ages, I mean the amount of time I’ve been a mom. My mom would have pulled the car over and dragged us through an antique store, but our generation (don’t you love it when people do that: our generation—because I totally know you and have the right to speak for you….) is about getting everything right. There’s little time for whimsy or exploration beyond what you might find on your best friend’s Pinterest board.
I’m all about efficiency—when traveling, when working, when mothering. It’s so lame. And closed off to the possibilities that pop up when you are actually watching the world around you, instead of just staying focused on the destination.
I know that truth, at other times in my life I’ve lived that truth. But right now, it’s tough to stay spontaneous… I tell myself it’s just because we have a small child right now… but that’s just an excuse that sells everyone in the family short.
‘Tomorrow,’ the young boy said. Then he woke up the next day and said ‘Tomorrow’ again. Then so many tomorrows came and went that he woke up and found himself an old man.