So many bug bites. Seriously, so many. And all on my ankles.
It was a little strange, waking up in the campground in Ohio, sore from thinking my yoga mat would suffice for a sleeping mat. It doesn’t. My exact words to Margaret were: “If I ever say ‘don’t worry, it should be fine’ please punch me in the face and yell ‘YOGA MAT!'” Out of water and no source from which to replenish, I dry brushed my teeth, and went off to the port-a-potty to change, hoping that the spiders had dispersed. They had.
Watching Margaret fold up the tent was way funnier than learning to put it up. I’m a little slow sometimes, and didn’t really understand the whole the-tent-will-be-full-of-air thing, so I wasn’t super helpful when she laid the tent flat on the ground and began rolling around on it to get the air out. By super helpful, I mean that I laughed hysterically at her.
In fact, you could say that Day 2 was my day of being absurdly unhelpful and grumpy. You see, we started out with kind of a general plan of where we were going to end up every day, but not an actual route. We decided on a route for the day while having breakfast after Mass, and as far as I was concerned, that was that, let’s go! The route we picked was rather complicated, because we wanted to avoid as many tolls as possible. I didn’t really put two and two together in that she needed me to be on top of the GPS to make sure that we were actually where we wanted to be. I was acting much more with the mindset that my roll was passenger, not navigator, and since the GPS we were using was on my phone, it meant that I needed to be not just passively sitting expecting Margaret to do all the work. I came to this fairly simple realization while talking to myself after my snippy outburst at Margaret when we did get on the wrong road and she asked me to find another. I felt bad, because she tried to talk to me, to figure out why I was angry, and I refused to talk to her about it. Margaret is a communicator, I’m not. I’m a get angry, stew about it, figure out where I went wrong, get over it person. I don’t want to involve other people in that process. (I’m pretty sure this is why I’ve been told on many occasions that I am a difficult person to be friends with.)
The upshot of taking back country roads, is that while you see more nature and beauty, it just takes longer. I thought we were never going to get out of Ohio. I thought I was going to be stuck there forever. The sprawling fields, picturesque town of Oberlin, and clear rivers did very little to soften my heart. I have to think it was kind of miserable for Margaret. This of course only confirmed my greatest fear about taking this trip; I was going to be a bitch, ruin everything for Margaret, and we wouldn’t be friends anymore.
Lucky for me, she’s a better person than that.
But, I was so happy when we finally reached Indiana, I took a damn picture of the damn sign.
Even though our final stop that night was Chicago, I felt that Indiana was at least close enough for me to fell like we would get there. And maybe in Chicago, I could convince myself to be less of a bitch. Now, it really did help me see the value of complicated routes, even if they’re more work, when we had to pay the fourth toll in as many miles getting into Chicago. I couldn’t believe it, it was like there was just a never-ending line of toll booths between us and our destination. Being a GPS monkey just didn’t seem so bad in contrast to digging out change every couple miles. Stupid tolls.
Of course, I wasn’t really mad about having to be a more active navigator. I wasn’t mad at Margaret, even though that’s how it came out. The truth is that I spend most of my free time on my own. I run errands, attend meetings, hang out with friends, but for the most part of this last year, when I wasn’t working I was by myself. There is a running joke among my girlfriends in DC about my “hamster bubble,” a phrase taken from a meme Kathleen found about how introverts interact with the world. And my hamster bubble has gotten smaller and smaller over the last year. So simply being in the presence of another person made me want to crawl into myself. That’s hard to explain to someone you’re traveling across the country with, especially if you can’t really explain it to yourself. I wasn’t expecting to have to fight that part of myself, the part that lives within my head and doesn’t know how to interact. I should have thought of that ahead of time, but I didn’t.
But we did make it to Chicago. KP put us up for the night in comfy beds and a shower. We all sat on her porch and talked and made plans for the next day. It was the space to get out of my own head, which was kind of the whole point in taking the trip in the first place.
When KP asked how it was going so far, Margaret diplomatically responded, “We’re learning each other’s rhythms.” Which was true. It was just something I had had no interest in doing for so long, I sucked at it. At first.