When my first daughter was very small, still just a baby, really...I would put her in my battered tan Chevy with the rainbow dolphin decal on the back passenger window, and we would drive. She was a fussy baby, not like the second, but surely like the third (which is why that one is the last) and the sounds of the car, as well as the world filtered through that multicolored piece of plastic on the window would soothe the savage baby beast.
The drive soothed me as well. The first year of her life we spent cooped up in a makeshift bedroom at my grams condo next to the golf course. They took the dining room furniture out and put in a crib and a twin sized bed. My cousin Billy came and installed some louvered doors. A privacy lie, they kept nothing out. No sounds, no smells, no yelling. The only thing those doors did, was keep us in. Unless I took a drive to clear my head and calm my baby. You can imagine how often we went.
I took the same drive every time (as I was still a timid driver) ... and the car was loaded with precious cargo. We went up a back route, tree lined and long it stretched through three towns before I got scared and would turn around and come back. Sometimes I would go back on forth on that same stretch four times. Up and down, up and down. When she fell asleep I would cry, or think, and try to scheme my way out and up from the pit I found myself at the bottom of.
Today I went grocery shopping. Last week my husband told me that a Big Y opened nearer to us than far, and I was interested in seeing what all the hoopla was about. It just so happened that only one of my children was up for the ride. The oldest, no longer a baby, but in certain need of soothing as she has the sniffles and a broken heart. As I left the others with their father, I asked him for directions, and found I knew the road well.
We got in a nicer car and she was in the front with me, not in the back. We put on the radio and like water, it perked my flower up.
I took the back roads and stopped in a parking lot, mostly empty, to give her an impromptu driving lesson. Really I was killing time, afraid to return to that stretch of road. Time travel can make me sea sick. She was thrilled and I, impressed. Sailing taught her to drive before I could. I felt a bit robbed.
And when back behind the wheel I bravely drove us down that route again. How did this happen? How was she sitting in the front seat, taller than me? How when the route is still the same, and the trees are still the same, and the only new construction is the Big Y? How can so much have happened between then and now without a return trip between?
The store is, in fact, impressive. The freezer aisle is warm. That is enough to bring me back in and of itself. I bought her some blond hair color and we decided she could go lighter even though I'd promised she had to wait another year. The drive had changed my mind.
In the car, back on that trusty route, the stern loaded with groceries and the bow heavy with hair color and a mom and a kid. The kid was laughing... soothed once more by a moment and a set of twists and turns on a tree lined route that I used to think brought us nowhere, but was really the entrance to our highway.