We decided last Tuesday that it was time to head up north. The trip would be a week earlier than we'd planned, but it was still the best time. We packed up our things in boxes and luggage that afternoon and set raw bread and cauliflower “popcorn” to dehydrate overnight.
The next morning we awoke, packed the car with our boxes and luggage and baskets and loose books (as I'm a champion of nook-and-cranny packing, what would have been at least 2 or 3 boxes of books ended up not boxed at all, crammed here and there in empty spaces instead, and creating a less packed car on the way up north than we started with three months ago when we headed down to Texas, even with all the little things we'd accumulated for the wedding).
We made some chocolate pudding smoothies, leaving full ice cubes in and wrapping them, sticking them under the passenger seat to keep cold until we were ready to drink them on the drive. We filled up a couple of jars with water and packed our bread, popcorn, fruit, veggies (and almond butter for dipping), putting all these things within an arm's reach. A couple of bottles of Kombucha sitting behind our seats by the backseat air conditioner and the ipods fully charged, we began our drive at 11:30am on Wednesday.
Not bad for deciding we were hitting the road less than 24 hours previously, I figured. The drive ahead totalled twenty six hours according to Google maps and we didn't quite know what our plan was. We assumed that we may be stopping at a hotel to rest, but I pushed for not deciding yet just where to stop. We should keep going as long as we were awake enough, because if we planned now to stop we may make the trip longer than it had to be – how did we know how sleepy we'd get, and when?
I started out the drive. We switched at about 4:00, when I started to feel a little less perky, and I napped for an hour, sleeping like a log and waking up feeling wide awake and extremely chipper. We listened to playlists T had made over the past couple months, and talked about wedding stuff, the meaning of human existence, and choreography – you know, the usual.
I took back over around 9, when we stopped for gas. We also picked up a Starbucks frappuccino from the refrigerator case, for a potentially tired time ahead, and stopped for french fries. Not raw, but we had a craving to feed.
T took a nap, and I drove through the night. I loved it. Since my treks from home in Virginia to college in Florida years ago, I've always been a night driver. There's no sun glare on the windshield, the roads are clear, it's quiet, and the miles just peel by. I put on my ipod and jammed out silently (so as not to awaken my copilot). He caught me once, and I was a little embarrassed, not gonna lie. But if he's gonna marry me, I guess it's okay if he sees my dorky lip syncing.
As I drove through rolling Oklahoma then into beautiful green lush Missouri, where I could feel the Earth breathing, full of life at the new, soft Spring growth, I thought about how clearly we've been directed lately. I think this happens to everyone – there are always signs to guide you. It's just whether you see and follow them that makes the difference between a smooth and joyful life, and days filled with struggle, resistance, and frustration. And, thankfully, we've been following ours lately. May we ever continue.
I noticed a deer somewhere in the wee hours. She was young, and had obviously been hit at a high speed – probably by a truck, which were the only other vehicles on the road, really. It was dark and I only saw her for a moment, but even a glimpse of her still form, legs sprawled in an unnatural and still position indicative of a quick and painful death turned my stomach. I mourned her for the next little while as I drove, lamenting how many animals needlessly die on the roads.
A while later, maybe an hour or so, I saw another. Again, on the right side of the road, this time so mangled that the only way I knew it was a deer was because of the pure size of the thing. I thought I saw a glimpse of exposed ribcage and grimaced, trying to erase the sight from my mind – obviously unsuccessfully, because here I am writing about it days later.
I thought about signs and started to worry that perhaps I was being shown these graphic images because I was being urged to caution – was I going to share a lane with a large four legger that night? I hoped not. And I thought about how I'd never seen deer like that in that way, although I've been driving on rural roads in deer country, off and on, for as long as I've been driving at all. Perhaps this was a sign.
Now fear hit me. We were in a packed car, in the middle of nowhere. And the camry certainly isn't so big that hitting a huge deer wouldn't majorly hurt it – not to mention the emotional trauma that would result after such a thing! Oh no. I didn't want that to happen.
But, unless you have your brights on, you can't see that well. And my cruise control was set at about 67mph, slow for a 65 if you ask most people, but I didn't want a chance of being pulled, and I don't know where the speed traps are in that part of the country. But 67 was enough to be a big problem if I hit anything.
As the miles and minutes passed, I became more and more stressed. I imagined all of the scary things that could happen as a result of that type of wreck, and I got progressively more jumpy and shaken.
Eventually, I decided that this was enough. I relaxed my mind and began to pray. I prayed to the Heavely Father that this trip would be smooth, pleasant and uneventful. I prayed to the Earthly Mother that she would keep all of her creatures a safe distance away from my passing. Make any deer find a particularly yummy patch of clover so that they'd cross the road 30 seconds after my passing, please.
Was I getting through? Were my prayers being heard? I wondered and pleaded silently as I drove around a left curve beneath thick leafy trees.
And at that moment, I saw it up ahead. A gigantic, and I mean GIGANTIC, white cross. It was the size of at least a 6 or 7 story building, and built substantially with thick and geometric arms. It was uplit from beneath, giving it a large, impossible to ignore presence in the dark. I stared at it, incredulous. What the heck. And I didn't even see a church around, as you usually do by big roadside crosses. It was just THERE.
I don't normally get signs from the Christian tradition. I was raised that way, then went on my spiritual awakening journey at the end of college. I believe that God has spoken to all the peoples of the world, in ways that they could understand, and that have trickled down to traditions today that are seemingly different from each other (although, if you look beneath at the actual messages, they're all the same). I just happen to often resonate with traditions other than Christian ones.
But not that day. That was a sign about as big and blatant as you get. And, from then on, I relaxed.
And no, there was no deer. T woke up soon and we took turns driving, arriving in Hazletion at just underneath 25 hours total. Not bad.