Road Trip

Dearest Rachel –

Well, it’s that time of year again. Memorial Day, and we would be heading down to Tennessee to visit Kevin, and just hang out at his place, watching television and YouTube, playing video games, and just enjoying each others’ company.

And we’re still doing that this year. It’s just that there’s a change in what constitutes “we” these days.

Frankly honey, we need to get out of the house. It’s been a very long year, as you knew even back when we were heading off to camp that fateful day. You wanted to get out, to do something, to enjoy… life. Even if it killed you.

And while I’ve been setting up certain other travel arrangements for myself later on this year, I haven’t been able to involve Daniel in much of them yet. He’s not interested in AnimeIowa, and the men’s retreat in Colorado was for a very limited number of registrants – and definitely not something he would really want to be a part of. It’s actually a little bit of a stretch for me, in fact. But between reacting to this house imprisonment that the entire world has been subject to, and having literally complete freedom to go win and where I want to, I feel the need to exercise that right and ability.

At least the travel to Tennessee is something we’ve done before, so there’s a certain familiarity and routine to it that Daniel can be at least a little bit comfortable with, despite the fact that well, things are different now. It can’t be helped – things are going to be different from now on, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about that. We just have to make them as normal as we possibly can. He still not entirely enthused about the trip. He always was a homebody.

At least there’s the culinary aspect of the trip that might encourage him to get out of the house. In particular, the two of you had such a great love for Waffle House that I would think that it would be some measure of encouragement to get out and about, since the chain simply doesn’t exist in Illinois, so if he wants to eat at one, he’s got to get in the car and drive – or let me drive – to one.

Of course, some things have come up here in the intervening years, rendering the trip a little less special than it used to be from an eating-out standpoint. It used to be a treat to go down there and stop in at Chick-fil-A, or McAllister‘s after church, but now these things have shown up to our area, so their existence in Kevin’s area isn’t really all the special anymore. There is Zaxby’s, and Jack in the Box, I suppose, but it’s more a case of being different from as opposed to necessarily being better than what we have up here.

And yes, I know I’m basically talking about a whole bunch of different fast food places. You know as well as I do that that was our thing. We enjoyed them, and apart from the effect they had around our respective waists, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with that. Although, to be fair, we weren’t the best of examples for Kevin, who has been trying to eat more responsibly, and here we would always show up and serve as such temptation for him.

Still, you did try to do your part by cooking for him (well, for all of us) on various evenings. Now, I guess that’s going to be my responsibility. Not sure how I’m going to manage that.

But before all that, there is the matter of getting down there. And even that is going to be different this year.

You were always the navigator, looking out for exits where we could stop (not to mention taking bathroom breaks – I suppose there are going to be fewer of those going forward), and working the computer or iPod for us to have something to listen to so that we wouldn’t get bored, or more importantly, that I wouldn’t get sleepy as I drove along.

I don’t expect we’ll be listening to too much Big Finish anymore. Neither Daniel nor I were particularly enthusiastic about the Doctor Who radio play episodes – at least, nowhere near your level regarding them – and now that you’re gone and won’t be listening to them, it’s actually kind of painful to even contemplate listening to them in the future at any time.

Similarly, I’m not sure there will be too many Reddit stories to listen to, either. It seems there are fewer such channels than there used to be, and I’d have to be a bit more judicious in curating them beforehand, as I can’t rely on you to cue them up anymore.

There won’t be a whole lot of conversation these days, either. If nothing else, I’m planning on leaving basically after Chompers wakes me up Friday morning, whereupon I’ll feed him and get him out to do whatever business he might have, at which point I’ll drag Daniel out of bed and set him in the shotgun seat, and then we’ll just head out. So I expect he’ll be sleeping for several hours as I begin our drive through Illinois, and probably most of Indiana.

(Originally, I had thought we would leave on noon on Thursday, or a little bit there after, seeing as Kevin doesn’t get home from work until one in the morning on Friday. But the idea of driving after midnight, while doable, is not something I want to attempt. Night driving is one thing – and I was much better at it than you – but doing anything after midnight is not something I trust myself with.)

The other bit of conversation that would be lacking is that you would go through your Twitter feed and comment upon it as we would proceed along these long drives. Again, that’s not going to be happening with Daniel, as I don’t even think he has a Twitter feed. He might have some thing with Parler or Gab, but I’m not sure I want to go into that. So it’s liable to be fairly quiet most of the way down.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure about Chompers. I’ve been asked by people what I’m going to do with him, and I usually just reply that we’ll be doing what we always did with him: he’d be riding in the car with us, situated in the well of the seat behind me, hopefully sleeping most of the time on his daybed or his comforter, and occasionally barking to let us know when he needs to stop in order to do business or what have you. Upon hearing this, most people give me a reaction like “Are you really sure you want to do this?” Well, maybe not, but what am I supposed to do? I can’t leave them at home, so he’s got to come with us. At least we have that wheelchair, so he can stand up and maybe walk around a bit.

I’m reminded of the fact that the English word ‘travel’ comes from the same root word that gave the French the word ‘travail:’ work. It’s going to take some work to manage this trip, especially since it’s not the two of us coordinating it for once; just me. On the other hand, packing should take less time and space, so there’s that…

To paraphrase the guys from “Jaws”: I’m gonna need a smaller bag.

I’m sure I’ll think of a few more things to put in here between now and when we pull out of the driveway. I just hope I think of them before we actually leave.

I’ve also scheduled a few letters to send you in case I’m busy while I’m down there; it probably won’t be an issue, but you know, just in case. I’m sure you’re plenty occupied up there with all the new sights, sounds and people to meet, but you also understand that little dopamine hit that comes with daily input:

After all, what was your tally on Gardens of Time? Four hundred days or something? So you’re familiar with the concept. Anyway, I’ll be keeping in touch.

Until then, wish me luck.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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