On Thursday night after a morning of rounding up cattle, an afternoon of office work and an evening of photography, I threw some clothes in a bag, squashed a cap over my tangled hair and pulled out of the muddy drive in the dark toward the highway to make my way the 180 miles to the big town for a meeting early the next morning.
In the box of the pickup were five giant rolls of orange electrical wire we purchased last week for the garage project, a bucket of grain and an antique chair I used during the evening’s photo shoot, but neglected to bring into the house.
In the back seat was Husband’s fireman’s uniform, three to ten half empty bottles of water or diet coke or Gatorade, a copy of Marie Claire Magazine from last May, a hand saw, an extension cord, a blanket, the muck boots I wore to get from the house to the pickup, a variety of tools, three to-go cups, a couple pamphlets on patio blocks from the lumber yard, a half-eaten bag of pretzels, a winter cap, a regular cap, a pair of fencing gloves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
And then there was me with my duffle bag packed in a half-hearted attempt to be prepared and convince someone around the table at the board meeting that I have my shit together enough to at least take the construction supplies out of the pickup before coming to town.
(Then I made a mental note to pull the Tunneau cover over the evidence on my next stop for diesel.)
I sat down at the table, only fifteen minutes late on account of two previous and failed attempts at locating the correct venue and within moments the hotel manager arrived to announce that someone in a black pickup was blocking a semi-truck trying to exit the parking lot.
I slumped my shoulders and announced to the room of professors, business owners, and put-together professionals that I would be right back.
Sometimes it’s hard to fit it all in out here thirty miles from the nearest civilized community when fitting it in means scheduling hours of time traveling down the road.
Sometimes it feels like half of my life is spent behind the wheel accumulating miles, sunflower seeds and opinions derived from endless talk radio on my way to pick up groceries, get a hair cut, get to a show or get my tooth fixed.
Because, despite my best efforts, the professionals in my life don’t seem to be too keen on holding board meetings around my kitchen table and contrary to some romantic beliefs, this country living thing doesn’t mean we grow our own vodka out here among the cow poop and scenic hills.
No, sometimes we need to make the three-hour trip to the big town to meet face to face and sometimes we have to go even further to get that special giant bright orange electrical wire for the garage project, and sometimes we take the same vehicle we just used to grain the horses and respond to a fire call to stock up on the essentials.
You’ll have to understand this if you ever ask me for a lift and find yourself moving a saw horse, an Elmo doll, a microphone stand, a leather jacket and a bag of Cheetos off the seat to get in and get buckled up.
Because with all those miles between me and civilization, you never know when you’re going to get hungry, be called to help with a construction project, put on an impromptu concert or entertain a three-year old.
And a girl needs to be prepared.
Coming Home: Rural living’s romantic notions dashed by reality of time on the road
by Jessie Veeder