Ok, enough about the driving. When a criminal gets freed from jail, he doesn’t spend the next ten years rehashing his prison experience. Basically, I drove until about 11:00 at which time The Girlfriend took over for the final 40 minutes or so. She starts up the car, says, “Wow, I haven’t driven in so long. I have no night vision!” and promptly drives straight down the on-ramp, merging onto I95 at something of a 45 degree angle. Just to show you where I was at the point, I laughed.
The next morning was the literal waking from the nightmare . . .
. . . But there's a problem with writing about the actual stay in Maine. Thing is, that was absolutely nothing wrong with it. And if you’ve learned anything from my blog, it’s that the majority of my material stems from complaining, mocking and general bitterness. Oh sure, I could rave about waking up at 9:00, cup of coffee in hand, walking into the back yard which is really just a wooden dock going out into a peaceful lake; and how the weather was about 90 degrees, but a Maine 90 is a New York 80; and how lobster was around the house the way that peanut butter is in any normal house; and how after lunch I would have a beer, decide I needed a little activity, take a kayak out for a spin and just sit there in the sun floating on a watery sheet of glass, not even remembering what it felt like to sit in an office chair.
But what fun would that be? No one I know is interested in reading about how great someone else’s vacation was. It’s like inviting friends over to watch a slideshow of your most recent vacation, only to have everyone perk up when you say, “Oh, and here’s a picture of me when I got food poisoning from the shrimp!”
The only complaint I can really lodge is when, on our second day there, a 12-year-old kid a couple of houses down started running up and down the lake in his motor boat; however, like a kid who’s only allowed to ride his bike where his mom can see him, he would drive about five houses down, turn around and drive five houses up over and over, ruining my peace and quiet to the point where I was compelled to scream, “You know what’s cool? Rowboats!” Later, while I was out on a kayak, The Girlfriend suggested ramming my kayak into the side of his boat, to which I reply, “I would if I could be assured that the gas tank would catch fire and blow up.”
Now that’s irrational bitterness for you!
Monday morning, we had much the same naïve plan for getting home as we did for getting there: out early, miss rush hour, only making pit-stops for gas and quick food.
Instead, we drove the 45 minutes to Bangor and stopped first at Walmart (Mecca for the elderly), then at Shaws (Mecca for the trashy), and finally at Dunkin Donuts (Mecca for . . . well, us). An hour and a half later, we’re back on I95 south.
Driving out of Maine, though is much different than driving into Maine. At least coming from New York, the first four hours of your trip feel productive – out of New York, through Connecticut, into Massachusetts. Gone home, it’s like reading a 19th century Russian novel – 400 pages in you’re halfway through and nothing’s happened yet. It breaks your spirit. Add to that the discomfort of driving a Dodge Neon and the constant feeling that everywhere we go people are saying, “Who invited Jersey?” and I was losing it in the first half an hour.
The Girlfriend had a worried look on her face, patting my head every so often asking if I was OK, but not in the “Do you want to take a break from driving” kind of way; more like in the, “You’re not going to kill us both, are you?” kind of way.
Unfortunately, not long after, The Girlfriend starts losing it as well. As traffic slows down to a crawl early in Massachusetts, The Girlfriend snaps leading to this exchange:
The Girlfriend: “What now?! Hopefully it’s just an accident.”
Me: “Yeah, I mean as long as no one’s hurt.”
The Girlfriend: “Yeah, sure.”
Needless to way, six hours and a regrettable stop at McDonald’s later, without the promise of relaxation once we reach our destination, and we’re both at our wits end. Belching is no longer funny, The Girlfriend is ready to destroy the CD player (“I hate every CD ever made”) and we’re still three hours away. We’re coming down I91 through Connecticut, about 5 miles before hitting 95, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, so burned out at this point that I’ve vowed never to drive anywhere ever again. The left lane breaks off and leads to 95 North – New Haven. It was to the point where I start to think: “Maybe it would just be easier to get in the left lane, go to New Haven, buy a house and move in. I could have my parents ship my stuff. I’ve never been good at tennis, but it’s got to be easier than sitting in this traffic. And the schools are exceptional . . .”
Not long after that, I blacked out somewhere on the Hutch, singing along to Chumbawamba, and woke up at a burrito joint near my house. Every trace of relaxation had been flushed from my body. I was already thinking about avoiding doing any work at the office the next day. But that’s the thing about a weekend getaway: you can’t expect any lasting effects from it. It’s instant gratification and instant withdrawal – take it for what it’s worth.
And what it’s worth is one hell of a tan on my left arm.