I never feel as grown up as when I’m embarking on a solo road trip.
“What?” you’re saying. “She’s almost sixty-seven years old. How could she feel anything but adult?”
But look at it this way: For the first twenty-one years of my life, I lived with my parents. In January 1969, I moved from Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Fremont, Ohio, where I took possession of my first apartment, first job, and first cat. I was engaged then, but didn’t expect to be married for a year or two. Well, circumstances changed. I ended up leaving Fremont in late February and moving back into my parents’ home until Scott and I were married at the end of March.
So out of almost sixty-seven years—can you believe it?—I have lived on my own for only two months. All the rest of that time, I’ve been somebody’s daughter or somebody’s wife. A lot of my decisions have been made for me by others, and the ones I made were skewed toward the needs of others. I haven’t been in control.
But in my car, out on the interstate, it’s different. I can stop when I choose, stay where I choose, and buy what I choose. If an emergency happens, it’s up to me to fix it. And I’m confident that I can.
I’m leaving tomorrow evening for a quick visit to Green Bay. I’m going simply because I want to, and that in itself is a departure. I’m not going for a wedding or a funeral, a class or family reunion, a theatrical performance, or even a football game. I’ll attend the Packers’ Family Night practice, but that’s not the main reason I’m going. I just want to connect with some old friends and meet some Facebook buddies in person.
I’m hoping this trip will facilitate a shift in my life. I haven’t done much writing for the past year and a half. I’ve never really had writer’s block before, but I guess that’s what this is. I don’t have much to say, and what I do write comes out flat. I thought I developed a distinctive voice when I wrote Incomplete Passes. I’m not hearing that voice right now. I’ve started a novel, but after a year and a half, my progress has stalled at 25,000 words. Some authors get that far in a weekend.
So I’m going home, back to where it all started, back to where I first learned to string words together. I’m going to get my feet on flat ground and my head on straight. I need to hear my own voice again. And I think I will hear it when I visit my familiar haunts: Lambeau Field; the rocky, windswept shore of the bay; the downtown nestled on the Fox River.