And now I have a deadline for writing that story.
Because I’m church camp counseling for some adolescents starting Saturday and I gots to be done done done with this story before then. So, 5-10k words will be coming out of my ears, brain and fingertips by Tuesday. This is my plan in order to edit rounds one, two, three, by Friday and then beg the Grand CL — those letters could stand for any number of things including Coolest Lung, Clapping Llama, or Crazy Laugh, none of which would make sense but all of which are possible — to read and edit round 4 while I am far far away on the banks of Lake Flathead.
It sounds like I’m making this stuff up, right? But CL is a real person who likes me enough to read and edit things that I write even when not required to (sort of like some of you), and Lake Flathead is a real place named for a native American tribe. There is even some land in the middle of it called Crazy Horse Island. And the water is really cold. Something of which I am sure I will be reminded when said adolescents decide to go swimming and I am required to chaperone.
Yep. Now you know what’s up.
Also, it’s my cousin’s birthday. He’s 19, which is a really exciting age. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
In Montana, everything is far away. Growing up, I was used to driving, used to riding in the backseat with the dog and a book, and used to the winding two-lane highways, the empty four-lane interstates. I expected two- or three-hour drives for soccer games; five-hour drives to see my grandmother in the same state. By the time I was fifteen, I had a driver’s license.
When people say “open road” I think they must be talking about the interstate in Montana. Or Alaska, maybe.
The drive from Missoula to Flathead Lake dips up and down steep climbs and around blind turns on two lanes, with the occasional passing lane to get by slower traffic (semi-trucks, tractors). It’s a drive that takes all of two hours because traffic is always slow and because in late summer, cherries are sold in roadside stands by migrant workers that Montana claims not to have, but does.
I went to a church camp on Flathead Lake. After I turned fifteen, I usually drove there with a friend or two. One year, I drove by myself – although I think it was later because I was a counselor then – and I understood why people feel free and powerful with an accelerator under foot and pavement streaming ahead.
Maybe because I was well-rested, or because I was happy, it was clear that this was ultimate freedom. I ate cherries and sang country music that I didn’t know (my sister always liked country music).
I may have been used to driving, but I was alone in hot summer under a perfectly bright Big Sky. Two hours didn’t feel like enough.
I think it is power, or some sense of independence that lets us love driving this way. We feel free, even when we aren’t.
**This post was inspired by Write on Edge’s weekly prompt with a word limit of 300. For more “open road” inspired work, click here.