What is your happy place?
My answer may sound trite but you have to know it’s just something about me. When I am stressed out, when I need to think, I get behind the wheel and drive. My favorite place to drive is down state road A1A. I understand it runs intermittently from somewhere in Maine to Key West along the eastern seaboard of the United States. I am not quite so ambitious but I have been known frequently to jump in whatever mode of transportation and find the white and black signs to relaxation between Fernandina Beach and Daytona Beach.
I will cut on 90’s music or some Motown, kill the AC and just enjoy the salt air. It’s considered a scenic highway because either the ocean is within sight or the signs point you to it’s vicinity. I used to do this a lot with my Mom and we’d have impromptu trips to whatever beach. I don’t really care for the sand being in my shoes and floor boards for months to come. I used to tell people I was a beach bunny but really I’m not, very seldom will you find a tan line on this florida girl. I just love to drive.
May was rough. It’s Mother’s Day, my slain brother’s birthday (which fell on Mother’s day last year), my first mother’s day alone, I was fighting with my husband about who was responsible for our doomed marriage, struggling with childcare, and working 70 hour weeks in a thankless job that robbed me of precious moments with my infant daughter. I remember just completing the 2016 Kidney Walk when I pulled out of the parking garage at The Landing and just driving down the highway, past exits for home, past county lines, until I found myself near Palm Coast, paying the tolls to SR A1A.
It evokes nostalgia for me of the days my mother would drive us to Tybee Island just to enjoy the sunsets, or the times my Grandma took us on summer day trips to Jekyll Island to splash in the knee length brackish waters. It reminds me of days when my family was still whole, when I was still whole.
The driving part is my escapist trying to break free. Sometimes you want to drop it all and run. Even now as a mother I hit the highways and my heart takes flight at the first distraction, eager to drive forever. My wildest dream is to keep driving one day. To have my daughter at my side, a good song on my mind, and to just keep driving until the road runs out. That’s where I’ll unpack my laptop and begin my writing career. Hey, a girl can dream right?
It works every time, the tension easing from my shoulders, my brow unfurrowing, and plan B through Z firmly in place. It has worked a hundred times and will work one hundred more. I just need a moment to find the black and white signs and smell the salt air.