My wife and I have solved the world’s problems a thousand times over with our drives. We define happiness as having a full tank of gas and some money for food. Case in point: It has been two and a half years since we purchased our newest vehicle, brand new off the lot with 1 or 2 kilometers on it. We now have over 125,000km on it. Only a handful of those kilometers were actual destination-minded ‘trips’. The rest were meanderings, down empty highways and bi-ways, to no place in particular where we would talk or listen, sometimes at the same time, taking time to think and file our thoughts, feeling safe with each other.
My driving passion started before I had my license as a young teenager. As I worked my way through my various vehicles as I was growing up I could say that apart from everything those vehicles were not – undriven was not one of them. Every single one of them I loaded on the kilometers before passing them along. So, even as a married couple, now with a child and another one on the way, all we knew was that our children better adapt quickly to ‘road trips’ because we didn’t want to change that. And for the most part, that worked. We would have to plan a bit more and carry a bit more supplies with us, but overall our children tolerated our sudden road trips well.
So it was no surprise, I suppose, that during the incredibly difficult few weeks right after my brother’s funeral – on one particular occasion – my wife and I were driving, our daughter strapped into her car seat in the back, content to either nap or look out the window – and that driving turned into more of an event. We drove onto the major highway system that intersected in this valley and headed toward the coast. We had no intention of driving to the coast but the highway through the mountain pass is a beautiful one and there are several places where we would drive to before turning around and heading back home.
But we didn’t. We just continued driving. And driving. And driving. Four and a half hours later we were all the way down to the coast and were now parked in a harbour where there are large vehicle ferries ready to take its occupants to the various islands that border this most western province.
I got out of the car and shook the cobwebs from my head. It was not my intention to drive here. I was in auto-pilot and just drove. I couldn’t drive any more without getting onto a ferry and my wife and I teased that idea around for awhile before common sense reminded us that we had a child to take care of and we had very little supplies with us, let alone anything for an overnight, which is what this was bordering on becoming. I opted for the view instead.
I stood there in that parking lot staring out into the harbour with the pacific ocean as its backdrop. As I stood there and I stared it was as if I connected once again to that little boy standing behind the fence on that raging river, longing to get to the other side, longing to find freedom from their circumstances. I remember the image of that boy standing on the other side of the bank, wet, tired, and hungry, but happy. I can see him from where I stood at the shore line – see him waving his arms frantically saying something that I couldn’t hear but still understood. I was both of those individuals. I was stuck on both sides of this mass of water between us.
I now needed to learn to be okay with my loneliness all over again.