Driving towards sunrises, and coming home at sunset have long been a staple for me. My home seems a geographic anomaly in the sense that I appear to be two and half to three hours from all corners of New York. Even Rochester, Watertown, and Syracuse though only forty-five minutes from me, often feel like a three-hour drive too. So, I have often found myself up and traveling at the ends of the day—driving towards the sunrise or chasing the sunset.
Lately, I travel with the dog—Chloe has proven to be a very adept car dog. Though we had a rough start of the adventure, given all the moves and transition to the research in Canada. Often, some friends will take care of Chloe—or the other dogs I have had over the years while I attend meetings and the like. People and groups have often generously offered me accommodations and hotel rooms. But if it is a reasonable drive—I stay at home and drive back and forth.
Sometimes I acknowledge my quirkiness of always returning home at night to take care of the dog(s). In truth, I sometimes enjoy driving. I use the time to think, to process the day’s events and discussions. And some great moments of insight have happened on my meandering drives too. I own my introverted nature—I use the time driving to rejuvenate myself.
I occasionally also enjoy a cigar with my coffee in my drives. As winter is receding, and spring is looming, to me there is nothing better than an “old-man cigar,” coffee, and the open road. My preferred cigar for a drive is the Perfecto-length cigar—I am usually inclined toward Tampa Sweet Perfectos.
On a recent trip home for a conference and some meetings, I caught up on the television show “This is Us.” I had long read the “spoilers” on social media—I find people are trying to be more considerate by not intentionally ruining a recent episode of the show of the moment. This one episode of “This Is Us” affected me a bit more than the others–“Memphis.”
This is always a tough subject for me—the loss of a father. My own father passed at forty years old—while I was but a teenager. Through all our challenges, successes, and difficulties—he was my father, and I did learn a lot from him in our all too short journey together as father and son. We made our peace, we tried to unlearn lessons that had not been good for either of us throughout our lives, and we had a bond that I can’t find words now to describe—but I am my father’s son.
One of the last lessons William offered Randall (in Memphis-This Is Us) was to “roll down all the windows, crank up the music, grow out that ‘fro, and let someone make your damn bed.” It is some pretty damn sound advice. I think of all the good advice I have benefitted from in my forty-six years meandering about here and there. Some of it from family, some of it from friends, some of it from friends that are now family, and some of it through experiences.
Life is short. I remember how often my friends and I would do just that in high school; roll down all the windows, crank the music…and drive. We’d talk and laugh, and sometimes we just enjoyed the tunes and air flowing past us. Life is full of change—some of it is our own making and some of it is a result of things just happening around us. But there are moments—where if you allow it—things feel pretty good. I think we forget to acknowledge that in the busyness of our lives.
We all carry burdens we don’t share easily or willingly. We all carry memories that might surprise others about how much those simple things in life meant so very much to us from ages ago. Even today, some songs put me right back in the car, in those moments with friends, with the windows rolled down and music cranked up—driving.
Just last night, returning to my apartment—one of those moments happened for me.
I had attended a conference last weekend in Niagara Falls, and a planning meeting close enough to Oswego—I drove back and forth to the meeting. This was roughly a week at home—catching up with friends in Oz, doing some work, and relaxing at home. My quirk was in full effect—listening and engaging at the meetings and conference, but doing some thinking on the drives to and fro—usually with Chloe. But the roadways were a blur, the music was ok, but nothing memorable happened on those drives. I think I even listened to podcasts, instead of music.
So rather than push to get back to Brantford on Wednesday, and return to teach in St. Catharine’s on Thursday—I simply left Oswego Thursday morning. I taught class at Brock, had Chloe at the kennel, and then started back to Brantford last night. The days are getting longer, spring feels like it’s here, and despite being on the highway (QEW) it was quite a nice drive.
Last night, I rolled down the windows, cranked my music up, smoked an “old-man cigar” and drank coffee. Chloe slept in the backseat, in her dog bed (that’s now always kept in the car). And I chased the sunset. For the briefest of moments, I thought I might just keep driving west and see if I could actually catch the sun.
When was the last time you chased the sunset, or drove towards the sunrise with windows down, music cranked up, simply breathing in the beauty that is life?