How do you continue when you have no drive?
How do you exist when you have no desire?
How do you carry on when the day to day monotony has you feeling beat down?
Last Sunday I woke up in a strange mood. I was agitated from the moment I opened my eyes. Not only was I running on just shy of 4 hours of sleep, I was an hour late in waking up to get ready for an event I had known about for two weeks. I was about an hour late on taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing my teeth, filling up my gas tank, driving an hour to the battleground, and meeting up with my dad.
I have a hard time answering my phone when it rings on a normal day, but that day was not the day by a long shot. After multiple missed calls from my father, I finally answered- fudging my responses- telling him I was on the way and I would be there as soon as I could. (Lie.) Fast forward to my frustration trying to figure out what to wear (an annoying hassle). Fast forward to filling up my gas tank, buying drinks for the road, and dealing with a long line in a seedy neighborhood downtown, in the biggest city on the east coast (a possibly dangerous hassle). Fast forward to getting to the battleground to see my dad participate in a reenactment of some civil war battle, that I had to park a mile away from and walk to (a sweaty hassle). Fast forward to me observing that there were very few people of color in the crowd of over 1200 pale, sweaty, mostly old faces; because yes, I did look. Sidebar: about 50-60% of them were carrying confederate flags (a scary hassle). Fast forward to two hours later when the reenactment was over, the crowds had dissipated, and I was sweaty, hungry, and couldn’t find my dad in the huge state park I was in (unnecessary hassle). Fast forward to finding my father, then sitting in his blisteringly hot, canvas tent, eating beef jerky, discussing true-to-1860’s-era lifestyle choices with a group of male, Caucasian, senior citizens (this actually wasn’t so bad). Fast forward to I want this day to be over, because I am tired, cranky, and not in the mood to be around anyone at all.
I helped my father and a few of his friends pack up their belongings: disengaged their huge canvas tents, folded their cots, folded up their blankets and clothes, moved their trucks, emptied and carried their coolers, then shook their hands in farewell.
After my dad drove me back to my car, I got in to head home for the evening. But at that exact moment, I decided this day could end so much better than going home to let myself glaze over, while sitting in front of some sort of LED screen in my room. I wasn’t going to let my day end with me feeling like a robot, programmed to carry out others wishes unemotionally. I checked my bank account, checked my map app, put the key in the ignition, started the car, drove to the nearest intersection, and took a left.
Left may have been the direction to get back to my home. But left was also the direction to the interstate. I followed left until I saw the sign for Interstate 95 South, which I decided was step one of going where the road took me. I decided this was step one of achieving my mental clarity for the time being.
Then I drove.
I drove for about one hundred and ninety-six miles- give or take.
I watched the scenery change, I watched the city names get stranger and stranger as I passed the big green exit signs, I watched the sun set in the trees. I listened to music, I sang, I cried, I talked to myself, and most importantly, I breathed.
Calmly and easily, I could breathe.
Who knew that driving 4 hours alone could be so exhilarating?
I couldn’t have cared any less about who neglected their dirty dishes in the sink. I wasn’t concerned about which of my shortcomings my mother wanted to talk about that day. I didn’t worry about my sister or her children, who constantly needed attention and “help”. I didn’t think about my boyfriend who doesn’t know that it’s okay not to spend every single second of every single day together. I didn’t care about my hovel of a room that I had been putting off cleaning because honestly, I didn’t have the energy to piecemeal it back to cleanliness.
The linchpin had gone missing, things could fall apart and it, for once, wouldn’t be my mess to stress over. I had metaphorically given my life the finger and said this is what I’m doing right now, you can wait.