How to Drive from Michigan to Arizona and Make Great Time

It’s simple, really. You spend weeks planning and packing and unpacking and repacking, checking and double-checking reservations and bags and items to entertain, and asking and re-asking which movies to bring and snacks to pack and must-have cozy animals to cuddle.

And then you load it all up like a jigsaw puzzle, and amazingly, everything fits, even your family, and then you pull out of the driveway on time, (no seriously, on time!) with joy and anticipation, and everyone is smiling and laughing and talking about all of the sights that lie ahead just waiting for you to discover and take lots of selfies, tons of selfies with all of those sights blurred out in the background and your smiling, laughing faces plastered right in the center. We are having fun! We are making great time!

And twenty miles down the road, in the middle of that annoying song about the tree in the hole in the ground, that you don’t actually find annoying at the moment because this trip is awesome, and you got your entire family out of the house at 8:00 a.m. just like your agenda said you would, the baby starts crying. And you reach back into the diaper bag for the bottle, and you must have stuck your hand in the wrong pocket, so you turn the bag around and reach deep into the other pocket, and that’s so weird, they must be in the cooler. And you flip up the top of the cooler, and there are all those yummy sandwiches you made, and the carrot sticks and the perfectly cubed cheese, but where in the world are those bottles and sippy cups and…hmmmmm.

And then you quietly whisper to your husband, “We need to turn around.”

And your husband looks at you and laughs because it’s such a funny joke. You are so funny.

And then you smile and laugh, too, because crying this early in the trip would be a real buzz-kill.

“Nope. We need to turn around. We left the bottles in the fridge.”

And he laughs and he laughs, and then the laughter stops. And you turn around. And for the following nine hours, you try to make up for the 45 minutes you just lost.

You rush through drive-thrus instead of stopping to stretch your legs and taste your food. You take the express routes that bypass the cities you were anxious to see. You cruise past the park that your kids spot from the tinted back window and gleefully exclaim, “A playground! A playground!”

You must speed ahead. You must make up for that silly, stupid really, mistake. So stupid. Uggh! You were really going to make great time this time.

And then, somewhere near St. Louis, you take a breath and come to the realization that those 45 minutes are gone. They cannot be redeposited. It doesn’t matter how quickly you charge ahead.

The knot in your chest that has been growing and tightening ever since that u-turn 400 miles ago – it’s going to crush your sense of adventure if you don’t demand that it release.  Let it go. Forgive yourself (or your husband, it was probably his fault) for the bottle debacle or whatever transgression has you feeling cheated of your time and settle in to the rest of your drive. Because it’s only Day 1, and how in the world can you make it to Day 21 if you don’t calm down and let the trip unfold as it will? How can you have a great time if you are only trying to make great time?

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