When you choose to travel the open road, you have to be flexible.
Your preferred road may be under construction or suddenly become clogged with traffic. It may even dead end when you least expect it. You have to be willing to stop, to change lanes, to turn around or maybe even backtrack. Otherwise, you could end up feeling broken when it’s just the road you travel. But even broken roads lead somewhere.
My best friend and I drove out of Anchorage, Alaska only a few hours behind schedule and in a car so perfectly packednot another protein bar or energy drink could have found its way on our journey. When the rain came down we drove through the night rather than set up a tent which might never dry. We continued in that vein, taking turns sleeping as best we could, as we drove relentlessly toward the Lower 48. Moments of mutual consciousness were filled with laughter. Michael plotted The People’s Grand Invasion of Canadia. I day dreamed of the roads ahead. And we did all of this as we travelled down a severely broken road.
The Alcan Highway is a skill test for any daytime driver. At night, it becomes a high-stakes gamble. When the fog rolls in thick and the road becomes a choppy patchwork of on-going construction you can only hope to have someone like Michael Zoske at the wheel. I’m not entirely sure how we made it through with all four wheels (and our lives) intact. Perhaps he is a modern day superhero, faster than a speeding patrol car, able to leap huge pot holes without a single spare. He certainly is my hero.
But despite every break in the road, we arrived in Seattle in record time, the launching point for my Slammin’ Adventures. I would soon travel along wine-country roads, salty coastal highways, photographic byways – every kind of road imaginable and all leading me slowly to my ultimate destination and new home in New Jersey. I would make new friends and re-connect with others. I would breathe through my open window while applying sunscreen to one arm. I would…
But I can’t tell you about all those roads. I can only tell you about the broken road which led me straight to where I am now.
You see, just a few days after arriving in Seattle I found myself at a cross-road. I could continue on my journey while my heart ached for someone living in undiagnosed pain for weeks on end, a person who also just learned her previously healthy mother was dying of cancer. Or I could unpack the puzzle in my car, mail another box to NJ, borrow a suitcase from friends and get on a plane – leaving my car and still dry camping gear for another day.
And as I thought about the two roads before me I could only envision one direction to turn.
Since then I have flown to Boca Raton to help Roz and two of her sisters settle their mother into hospice care in the city where I was born. And she and I have returned to navigate more of the challenges one faces at the end of life. And between the two trips, I am sad to say I have also flown to Myrtle Beach where my brother was placed into similar care and died a short time later.
I have also joined Roz at doctor’s appointments hopeful someone would speak the name of the disease which had taken hold of her body. Or better yet, to learn what drug would enable her to walk up and down stairs or open a bottle of water without pain. I am now reading all about Rheumatoid Arthritis and watching with relief as the medications take effect.
So these last few weeks I have not been on any of the roads expected, but my road has been exactly the one I would choose again. It has led me to the place where I now sit, a place at peace with my heart. And the new roads which lay before me are bountiful though different.
And though I cannot simply return to the place in the road where I left my car, there are still wine-country roads, salty coastal highways, and photographic byways in my future. And there are also busy city roads with toll booths and aggressive drivers multi-tasking their way from one appointment to the next, all reminding me I’m not in Alaska anymore.
The stories I will weave from these roads will undoubtedly be different, but I do hope you will continue to join me as I tell them.
- The Road Not Taken (correctyourskin.wordpress.com)