A 30 day writing challenge isn’t immune to memorable dates. Today, of course, is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, a day of darkness.
This date signifies the end of peacetime for our family. It altered the objective of our future travels and the way we looked at literally everything. It changed our nation’s way of believing, of loving, of trusting.
Instead of resharing the chapter I wrote about 9/11 and how it impacted us directly, I will talk about going down new roads and lingering. To make this happen, I will borrow some fuel from my new friend, Nancy, a woman who shows light to so many who suffer darkness. Nancy is grace. Modeling her heart-shaped glow, I will share.
Roger and I always had minivans and they were usually filled with boys. Our four and their friends would sit in the seats while they got the sillies or watched Finding Nemo on the DVD player. Roger wasn’t one of those men who pounded his chest and had to be the driver, so we took turns.
Jacksonville was ever-growing when we lived there as a young family, and new roads were being built constantly. We would leave our small, brick ranch on Shamrock Drive to go to the commissary on base or an appointment at the pediatrician and it seemed like there was a new road every day. They built new housing developments with brand-new two-story homes, more Taco Bells, or a new coffee shop with a cute name like Moka Joe’s, and each time there was a virgin road to follow. The rate of growth was rapid, and I only saw it as a pain. My husband didn’t agree.
“Let’s see where this road goes,” Roger often said, hopeful.
“He really needs to nurse.” Nobody was crying or needing me.
We also took many road trips during our perfect life, driving twelve or more hours to visit family. Beeline was the way. I was all about Interstate 95 and he was more into the slower, longer roads. One time he convinced me to take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel in Virginia which was out of our way and was sure to add hours to our trip. I remember being annoyed. It was rare we would stay off the fast track on a trip, but he always tried.
“There may be a diner in this town,” he would say, or “What if we need to stop? It’ll be easier.”
“They can pee in bottles,” was always my answer.
God if I could sit in a mini van for 12 hours with Roger today with crying, red-faced babies and panting dogs. Oh, to pull over in some town in Delaware just so we could all have a picnic with homemade grinders, little bags of dusty Cheetos, and cold Coke in a can. I can still taste the homemade peanut butter cookies with sugared tops, and juice boxes that were on sale, and I can hear the pops as their straws pierce the tops.
Why did I think all that car time with Roger and the little boys had to be rushed when I could have soaked up the journey? Usually I think there’s nothing I can do because it’s too late. Maybe it is for me, but it doesn’t have to be for people who still take long boring trips.
On this anniversary of the day the world stopped turning, drive slowly and go down that new road. Let me know what it’s like.
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