Yesterday, my husband drove with me to a speaking engagement at Mountain Lake in Pembroke Virginia. This was the location for the filming of “Dirty Dancing,” although we didn’t engage in any.
Due to our busy work schedules, our plan was to drive the four hours, have me speak for an hour, and then drive the four hours home stopping only for a nice dinner.
The drive up was nice, except for the hairpin turns on a winding mountain road that had no railing. You would think that would have slowed me down, but it didn’t.
We arrived in a timely manner, the presentation went well, and when it was over we stopped in Blacksburg at a Cracker Barrel for a wonderful, heart-threatening dinner of chicken fried chicken with chocolate cake.
After dinner we walked to the car holding hands, smiled at each other lovingly, talked about how well the presentation went, and pounded it out victoriously.
We merged back onto I-81 with plans of stopping for gas within the next hour.
Then we hit traffic on I-81 . . .
And I don’t mean slow, crawling traffic. I mean dead stop, look-at-your-gas-tank-and-panic-traffic.
I’m talking a sea of brake lights that were blinding. One thousand trucks lined up like whales waiting to get a new i-Phone. That is when I had my slow, power-up meltdown.
“I can’t believe this,” I said after sitting there for 30 minutes. “We decided to go home so we could work tomorrow. We could have spent the night in a beautiful location. Now we’re going to be exhausted. This is freaking awful. The worst.”
My husband agreed, and my anger set off a hot-flash.
After two hours of a near-dead stop, we started moving. I smiled again.
We pulled off the interstate and filled up the car. I gathered some snacks, because my HUGE Cracker Barrel dinner wasn’t enough. We got back on the road and smiled at one another. We held hands. We savored our time together.
Twenty minutes later we hit bridge work on I-81 . . .
“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?” I yelled. I’d like to say that “freaking” was my word of choice, but my selection was actually much darker.
We sat for one and a half additional hours, as I complained about the traffic. And the other drivers. My back started to hurt. My head started to throb. Then I complained about complaining.
My mood was rolling down hill gathering emotional muck along the way. I couldn’t stop myself.
My husband tried to fake sleeping to avoid me, but I knew he was awake and poked him lest he missed some of my best moments.
What I could have done differently . . .
I could have realized that even sitting still, my husband and I were still together. We could have talked and laughed like we did when traffic was moving.
I still had a successful presentation, and we would still get home before dawn and have the next day to work.
I could have been grateful that I wasn’t sitting in traffic by myself, late at night.
We could have had a perfectly pleasant evening.
But we didn’t, because I chose to see how absolutely horrible everything was.
Next time we’re stuck in traffic, I’m going to be calm and take advantage of the time. . .
I’m going to smile at other drivers. I’m going to bring something I could work on or read.
And if that doesn’t work, then I’m buying my husband some noise-reducing earplugs.
Because he deserves them.
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