At the end of each summer, I always feel antsy. Ready to go on an adventure. I feel like something big is coming, and I have to get ready for it.
I live in Michigan, so the “something big”” is usually winter, but my sense of restlessness is more than that. I need to travel, to jump in my car and just go somewhere. Anywhere. I want to grab a giant, icy bottle of Diet Coke and a couple of old favorite CDs and bellow, “Road Trip!” with no specific destination in mind.
Maybe it’s because of the old Color Tours my aunts used to take us on when my sisters and I were little. We’d pile into the family car and just drive and drive and drive all day, looking at all of the beautiful fall colors. We’d end up lost, of course. There’s never been a person in my family with any sense of direction, so we always got lost.
Eventually we’d stop for a picnic lunch of crackers, Colby cheese, and huge chunks of ring bologna. We might stop at a quiet spot on the side of the road, or a pretty picnic area at a public park. Sometimes, we just rolled the windows down and ate in the car.
One year, we stopped at a scenic little spot beside an inland lake. I seem to remember an old stone wishing well, but I could be wrong. By the time we got our food out and ready to eat, we discovered that the place was infested with bees, and that picnic was forever after referred to as the year we ate “cheese, bees, and bologna” for lunch.
We usually ended up in the Allegan State Park at the end of the day, crunching along over the crisp leaves while Aunt Marian tried to teach us to whistle through acorn caps. My sisters both mastered it, but I never quite got the knack. That’s all right though, because I can still out-whistle both of them the usual way.
I havent gone on a Color Tour in years. Fall has become such a busy time for me. My daughter is a cheerleader, my son is in the marching band, and high school football games are practically mandatory for all citizens in a town this small. There are back-to-school activities and routines, and getting ready for winter. Busy, busy, busy. No time for random drives through the countryside. Besides, the cost of gas is ridiculous. We lived on forty wooded acres, for crying out loud. We could see the fall colors just fine from the living room window, thank you very much.
I told myself that the “antsy” feeling was all about being nervous about winter. I didn’t need to travel aimlessly around on foolish road trips to nowhere.
This year, though . . . this whole year has been a lot like waking up from a long, restless sleep. I crawled into a pretty dark cave for a lot of years; depression, an unhappy marriage, and grief will do that to a person. Coming so close to death in a car accident three years ago should have been my wake-up call, but I don’t think I was ready to open my eyes just yet. I wasn’t ready to face the world until the day I looked deeply into my husband’s eyes and realized that we both knew it was time to stop pretending.
I’m never going to be the person I once was. I’m older, wiser, and sadder. Life didn’t turn out the way I expected it to; the little girl who tried to whistle through acorn caps is long gone, but her restlessness is back with a vengeance.
It’s almost fall in Michigan. It’s ridiculously hot for September, but I know fall is coming. It’s bringing cool night air and blustery mornings, crispy orange leaves and the smell of bonfires. It’s coming, and it’s telling me to go. Somewhere, anywhere. Just go. Grab the keys, cheese and bologna and hit the road for points unknown.
I’m ready for adventure.
This post was written as part of Finish the Sentence Friday.