On Sunday afternoon the kids were refusing to nap, so I gave up and packed the kids in the car and took the long, arrow-straight drive East along US 90, and sure enough, within 5 minutes they were asleep, snoring softly in the backseat.
I like driving, in the right conditions. When I am not in a hurry, when I am not trying terribly to get. some. where. Something about the miles just slipping away under the tires. When I can't get away by myself, this is a good substitute.
Sometimes things gather like clouds and I have to clear them out of the way. This week I have been very careful about my diet, avoiding caffeine, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and excess sugar, so by Sunday I was missing my various vices and feeling that hard edge of too-much-intensity that is hard to dull without them. But the drive was doing it. Something about that stretch of road never really seems to change. Its character is the same as it was when I was 17, 19, 20, and now 31. The crepe myrtles are bigger but they are in the same places; the boxwoods between Monticello and Greenville are still oddly placed like dropped marbles, but they are as tall as houses now instead of little dog-sized sprouts.
The day before, I had my first physical victory: I have been dealing with problems with exhaustion, thyroid problems, and adrenal fatigue for a few years, and on Saturday I did a bunch of yard work, and made it. I have been sleeping well finally and feel myself getting better. One thing that has happened -- something unexpected -- is that as I come back to myself, more and more, I also feel my raw edges more strongly. I have so many tattered-edge ambitions, like this novel I want to finish writing (but when?) and the fact that I always want to keep my house clean, but I just can't hold all the little lists of tasks together in my head or on a piece of paper. And I never know where my phone is, and I have needed to clean out my purse for two weeks and still haven't done it. And I have been losing and gaining the same three pounds since February.
I have the energy to make things a little better every day, and it makes a difference. But sometimes the rawness gets to me and I have to "run away," even if that just means putting the kids in the car and driving for an hour or two. Yesterday I was feeling the goodness of blessing and the struggle of the road ahead as well, both in equal parts. The hazy green miles went on and on, and after a while I felt the goodness outweigh the struggle. That clench in the pit of my stomach let go and I turned around and made the trip back home.
On the way back into town, I was behind a semi truck, its giant white trailer scraping branches off the trees as it went. As it passed beneath the crepe myrtles, it knocked little flurries of flower petals down on my car: rose, coral, and white. I felt like some kind of funny bridal carriage, for miles and miles, showered in the tiny flowers. And we emerged on the other end. The children stirred awake, rested and calm, and the surroundings became more familiar.