So there I was, riding shotgun once again, my cane by my feet, my hand on the half open window, my mind trying to figure out where we were, counting the corners and turns and dips and twists in my head. It was probably the gazillionth time I had been on Route 2 between Canaan and Skowhegan, and there I was, on it once again, but like so many times before, I wasn’t driving,. Once again, I was in the passenger seat, trying not to be a back seat driver.
Me? A back seat driver? Me?
Can blind billy goats actually be a back seat driver? Is that possible? I mean, really?
Oh, I can hear me now. “Turn right just up ahead, unless you aren’t there yet, or did you go by it already?”
Ya, that would be a wonderful helping hand to another driver, known affectionately as my wife. Talk about an oxy-moron. Talk about an illogical Supertramp moment. Talk about the dark side of the moon.
You’re smiling right about now, aren’t you Mr. Gilmour? Well, you ought to be!
Who in my right mind would ever tell someone like me that anyone but me should be giving out directions, or driving hints, or road weary traveling tips? I mean, look at me! You might as well, because I can’t look at you.
I tried figuring out in my head how many approximate miles I have driven over the past thirty two years while working. I came up with the rounded figure of one million, five hundred thousand miles. That would cover going there and back a couple of times, right? That figure doesn’t even include all of the miles I put on in my spare time. The trips out to Buffalo, to Michigan, to Florida, Down East, to Boston, to the mountains, to the coast, to grandmother’s house we go, chasing the sun and driving under the moon. It doesn’t even count all the trips to Wal-Mart, or McDonalds, or Dairy Queen, or Belfast or Waterville or anywhere else I figured I should go.
I would have to say that two million miles isn’t out of the question.
How far is it to the moon? Are we there yet? I hope so, cuz I gotta go to the bathroom!
When I lost my sight I figured it wouldn’t be long before I would be chomping at the bit to drive again. I figured I would be sitting in the car, hanging my head out the window with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, just like Bubby the Beagle used to do. Dogs do love to ride, don’t they? Call me a dog, and pass my squeaky toy please, and thank you.
Now, where was I?
Oh ya, driving.
I thought I would miss it tremendously, but so far, I haven’t. I’m not sure why, but I really don’t. I do tend to drive the misses crazy with all of my technical and observant comments, but isn’t that what husbands are supposed to do? I think yes, and I seem to remember reading it somewhere. Probably the swollen male ego manual, or a close facsimile thereof.
I wrote a blog post back a bit about how I still picture the roads travelled in my mind. I picture from here to Jackman vividly, including all the amazing views of the majestic Kennebec and the mountains beyond. The rolling hills, the scenic, cascading valley snapshots and the groves of white birches along the river. It all stretches from here, way over there, and then there’s the rides along Route 1 from Stockton Springs, all the way down to Damariscotta. I will forever be drawn to my memories of the morning sun glistening across the ocean as the coves and rocky coast rolled by, week after week, month after month, year after year. There’s nothing quite like the beautiful diversity of this state, and to think that I drove through just about all of it is incredible. The only part of the state that I didn’t drive through was up in the county. The furthest north I ever went behind the wheel was Smyrna Mills. I drove up there once to receive acupuncture to try and quit smoking. it’s clinical effects lasted almost two months, but then, well, it didn’t last past two months, and I was smoking again. Still, what a ride that was. I would have loved to drive up through the county, and probably would have before I died. I might still, but I’ll be picturing it in my mind instead of viewing it with my eyes. It’s funny how different things seem now since I picture them in my head. I do have a lot of catalogued artifacts stored neatly away, but they are slowly being replaced with my brand new made up versions of reality. What I think, what I feel, what I hear, sense and touch has replaced what I used to see.
I’m sure I will miss driving soon enough, and I’m sure that there will come a time when I’ll be sitting out in the car with the steering wheel in my hand and the gas pedal under my foot. I did start our Chevy up the other day and stepped down on the gas pedal. To feel the engine roaring just in front of me instantly took me back to my traffic dodging days. I sat and thought a moment, remembering all the days and all the miles. I sat and pictured the interstate ride to Bangor every morning. I pictured waiting behind a school bus nearly every day. I imagined how it would have felt to put the car in reverse and back out of the driveway. I smiled, stepped on the gas pedal a couple more times, then put the car into reverse. After backing up about ten feet or so, I stepped on the brake, caught my breath, put it in drive and pulled ahead about ten feet. Sitting there, my heart started beating out of my chest.
I put the car into park, turned the engine off, took out the key, opened the door, and went inside the house.
I felt like I had just got home from a two hundred and fifty mile day at work.
I’m pretty sure that was all I needed, and I’m pretty sure if my wife found out, well, that’s another blog post, on another day.