Last weekend I had the extraordinarily rare opportunity to travel from El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ. Total, that’s 900 miles of driving time alone. I can’t even believe it happened even looking back on it. I was alone. No kids. No husband. Just me and my steady steam of podcasts on the open road – and I could actually hear them. It was a miraculously beautiful thing.
In my day-to-day life, sometimes I get caught up in mom-mode, and I feel guilty for even driving to the grocery store alone. I’ll have a major melt-down moment because of the daily carnage that takes place in my home (i.e. mass chaos over a stolen tea cup which results in hair pulling, biting and timeouts.) I’ll be blubbering to my husband, Brandon, about my daily panic attack when he finally decides it’s time for me to head out the door to take time for myself. And more often than not, I can’t do it. I feel guilt for leaving them for even a full afternoon to do a meaningless, mindless task – alone. But last weekend — ohh –I relished the quiet. The friend I was visiting was celebrating her final fling before the ring, and she was so deeply thankful and surprised I drove all that way to see her. This time, however, I was finally able to respond, “This is like a vacation for me. I needed this weekend alone.”
Somewhere along Interstate Ten I became acutely aware that I was going to travel this exact highway for a very long time (six straight hours; pretty much the whole trip.) From El Paso I entered I-10 heading west for Phoenix where I remained until I merged onto I-17 in the outskirts of Phoenix. It was during the stretch where the sunflowers bloom along the asphalt when I realized that even though I live 450 miles from my dearest family and friends, my driveway directly connects to my parents’ driveway. In other words, there’s a road that will take me precisely to their front-yard. When feelings arise of solitude and seclusion from being a military family who lives a great distance from those who I care most about, I can remember that one road will cross three states leading me to their front door. I am always on the road that connects us.
The very gifted writer, Donald Miller, perfectly writes in this novel A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,
“When you fly across the country in an airplane the country seems vast, but it isn’t vast. It’s all connected by roads one can ride a bike down. If you watch the news and there’s a tragedy at a house in Kansas, that guy’s driveway connects with yours, and you’d be surprised how few roads it takes to get there… My life is connected to everybody else’s… “
Military life really blows sometimes. This evening my husband announced that he’s going to be in the field (military training) during the wedding of the friend mentioned above. She’s having a destination wedding in Long Beach, CA on a Monday in October. Brandon and I planned over a year ago that we’d attend. Of course, the military has a way of throwing an IED in our plans right at the perfect moment. I was fairly pissed off and cried a ridiculous, pathetic cry because this stuff often happens. Then I asked him to get out of it like it were jury duty or a parking ticket. As with many prior weddings, I’m attending this one alone.
The military lifestyle has its potholes and hairpin turns, but I hold peace knowing I am always on a road that connects me to those I love most.