We had already been on the road for 6 hours. It was a trip that I had gotten used to after making that back-and-forth once a month for several years. I used to jokingly tell folks that it was an 8 hour trip, but my patience only lasted for 7 and a half hours. However, I had developed several strategies, silly games in my head, to help pass the time and the distance. Things like counting license plates from different states, seeing how long I could stay in contact with a particular car or truck, or changing the pattern of my grip on the steering wheel every few miles. Kind of mental gymnastics to keep me alert.
For this trip, I was not alone. I can tell you that this was a real treat, an occurrence that was becoming less and less frequent. However, when they were with me, I felt complete. I somehow felt like I was finally fulfilling my most important role. I was the leader, the one responsible for getting us through safely, for watching over everyone. In some silly macho way, I felt like a real man.
After 6 hours on the road the atmosphere in the car took on a mixed feel. I, like the horse smelling its stable on the wind, knew that we were on the home stretch. If we just endured for a little while longer, I could get us home and back to our world. However, the opposing sentiment was to stop off at the next exit as we had just passed a Dairy Queen sign. In addition to getting home sooner, I fought to stay on the road because I sensed an opportunity to save a bit of money. When it was clear that the request to stop was not really a request, my heart sank out of my chest. I was wounded and somehow felt like I had been stripped of my role as leader. My feeble defense as we pulled into that Dairy Queen parking lot was to pout and grumble.
That journey that I had made so many times induced me into some pre-programmed mode. To stop was to give up. Perhaps this was just another of my silly games to get through the long drive. But, I now realize, that I was petty and self-centered. I'm sorry. I should have been more deliberate to stop and taste the Blizzards of life with you instead of having to face them alone.