I had always hated driving, which may have something to do with the fact that I traveled cross-country for most of my childhood years.  My life lately includes a lot of it, with a granddaughter in Northern Massachusetts and a daughter attending school in Hartford. Surprisingly, I have learned to enjoy it!  I find myself bopping away to music, using my right arm as a conductor’s baton, (one, two, three, four; the movements from music class carefully ingrained into me.) Worse yet, one can find me huskily singing along with great enthusiasm.

Taking non-highway routes as my father always did, the variations of scenery are fascinating. Children play on swings, grandmother sitting nearby, and clothes swing on a clothesline; do they use an old wood stove for cooking?  Do they have an “icebox” instead of a refrigerator? Have I crossed over into the Twilight Zone? I remember driving through the same scenes as a child.

Many of the houses are memorable.  One with natural wood and white shutters has a toddler standing in the window, waving, green curtains framing her. It is only after a few trips that I realize that that same child is always in the same position, waving, but wearing different clothing. It is not a child at all, but a doll that is lovingly cared for and placed in a prominent spot for all to see. Another red shuttered house has a flag waving on the front porch, a decoration to herald in the seasons and special occasions. With Valentine’s Day done and over, a St. Patrick’s Day shamrock now blows in the wind.  Driving, I take stock of such silly things as how much wood is piled in front of the lumber factory.  (During the winter, the pile has diminished.) I await the spring when the nursery, which had Christmas Trees and wreaths, blossoms in beautiful colors of the multitude of flowers, but now a stark and unwelcome place sits in its spot.  (The owners are probably enjoying sunny Florida.)

It was only as an adult that I realized that my dad and our family traveled so much because of his severe posttraumatic stress from the war. We criss-crossed the country, driving on the back roads. Driving hypnotized him into peace, keeping the awful memories at bay while experiencing the delightful ones of finding new places and exploring the many geographical areas of the country.

Driving the back roads has become more important to me now.  No flash of highway exits and speeding cars, but leisurely driving through the countryside, relaxing my thoughts.  Often, when observing the bright blue sky and puffy white clouds, the bright yellow sun will make its way down as a brilliant stream of light, and tears will inexplicably sting my eyes.  Pure peace and joy. I have finally been able to fully understand the importance of traveling.


Comments on: "I Know Why My Dad Had To Drive" (19)

  1. Very insightful. You must be young enough to multitask, though. If I pay that much attention to the scenery, we’ll be lost and veering off the road from time to time!

  2. I did it because at least the boys could catch up on their sleep, even if I couldn’t.

  3. It’s funny how the things I notice have changed now that we live on a farm. I drool over fences and barns and lots of pasture, and I can’t drive past an old farmhouse without longing to visit. On our back roads near home, though, the scenery is more likely to include a hoarded out porch that makes you wonder how they even get to the door; a poor pig kept in a small, muddy dog kennel; or the neighbor on our road whose outdoor pile of full garbage bags is creeping closer and closer to the road. It’s a lot more interesting than driving on the freeway, though, which I avoid as much as I can!

  4. I’ve always preferred the back roads than the highways. However, when I was married we traveled from California to N. Carolina several times on the interstate. I can’t count how many times we sailed past New Orleans without ever seeing it. I finally decided NEVER again and the next crossing we went off the interstate and made the trip with the boys. It was a “side trip” worth seeing. I’ve now live on an outer island of Hawai’i for over 50 years where there are no freeways and only one highway around the island. I am so thankful for the beauty I behold every day just driving into town.

  5. Back roads take longer, but the time is well spent. Why rush to a predictable destination when you can meander and enjoy your travels? Sometimes I take a wrong turn or even get lost. So what? I stumble across little known historical sites, parks, unusual scenery, and interesting people.

  6. It’s funny, Marie, that you mentioned getting lost. I ALWAYS get lost when I’m driving on the Mainland, but I love it. I always discover places and people that I would never have seen if not for unplanned exploring.

  7. AdoptiveNYMomma said:

    I grew up near Hartford and yes the drive is amazing. When I was younger I had medical issues and required hospital treatments and my Mom would always take me on the back roads to Yale New Haven Hospital to keep me from stressing out before the appointments

  8. Beautiful.
    During my divorce, with two young high needs kids, I would drive and drive with music on. It was the only “alone” time I had!
    Lovely post!

  9. I don’t drive on the moroways here either. I never did get the speed thrill thing and prefer to potter along at a sensible pace.

  10. You always write so beautifully 🙂 I enjoyed reading all of your descriptions and thoughts. I could picture everything. Traveling can become so chaotic at times, but it’s encouraging to remember that there’s a peaceful side to it.

  11. I love taking those roads, through little towns where people put hay bales and cornstalks out for the autumn season. One of my favourite things about New England and Upstate NY where I spent so much of my childhood. Safe travels and enjoy!

  12. Thanks for this post! I enjoy traveling !!

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