I don’t have a bucket-list, but I do want to spend some of the time I have remaining with my wife, doing things that retired people do. Deciding what retired people do, is not as easy as you might think. The list of retiree’s activities includes things like needlepoint, volunteering, joining a bocce league, learning to play Bridge, sitting on benches, sitting on benches and feeding birds, sitting on benches talking to the birds while you feed them, the list is endless. I decided that the most appealing choice on the retired list was travel. Retired people like to travel. They go places, and see new things that they had no time to see when they were working. Traveling at a leisurely pace is a retired thing to do.
Usually, Honey and I, have both preferred to get somewhere as fast as possible. Direct flights or ones with short layovers have always been preferred when travelling. But sitting in a metal tube with 250 strangers right now is out of the question. My immune system isn’t robust enough to fight off a case of Athlete’s foot, let alone a deadly coronavirus. The fact is, that if we’re going to travel retired style, it’s going to have to be in Ruby. We’re going on a road-trip.
I remember when my father would suggest that we all go for a ‘drive’, and the family would pile into our Rambler station wagon and go for a tour of the countryside. When you’re five years-old, piling into the ‘wagon’ and going for a ‘drive’, meant adventure, seeing or doing something different, and almost always ended with ice-cream. I was a fan of the ‘drive’ right from the start.
I also remember that when dad said, we’re going for a drive to visit grandma, this was not the same thing. Same word, totally different meaning. Grandma lived six-hours away! This kind of ‘drive’ got you lunch, but no ice-cream. It was six-hours of boredom and driving a 100kph (60 mph, back then) or faster, down major highways. It was endless hours of staring out the window trying to spot out-of-province license plates, not understanding that I’m only five, and I can’t read! I barely knew colours!! It meant six-hours of my father cracking jokes that I didn’t understand, and only he found funny! It was six-hours of my father singing show tunes! Really loud!! “SEVENTY-SIX TROMBONES LED THE BIG PARADE…!!!” No five-year-old should learn the words to the Music Man!!! It’s cruel and unusual punishment!!!
A trip to visit grandma also inevitably meant, that one of my arms would be severely bruised by the time we arrived. This compliments of the constant jabs it would receive from my older brother, every time I did something that pissed him off. Believe me when I tell you, when you’re five, you can piss off a ten-year-old quite a bit over six-hours!! Dad may have said ‘drive’, but going to grandma’s house wasn’t a ‘drive’, it involved a great distance, over-night stays, and a certain amount of personal discomfort. Even today, that defines the road-trip.
I know what you may be thinking, that that is a pretty negative impression of the road-trip, and why would I ever want to go on one? I am actually a fan of the road-trip, it just took me a little longer to get there. I can thank my wife for changing my attitude, some of the best times we have shared together, have been on road-trips. Sure, my first concept of the road-trip wasn’t a positive one, but my opinion of them changed once I realized that I liked driving long-distances, there was adventure, now that I was privy to the whole plan, and I could stop for ice-cream any damn time I wanted. Oh, and my wife doesn’t punch nearly as hard as my brother.
My childhood experiences made me a realist, and taught me that confining people in a small space for extended periods of time, doesn’t come without its challenges. My wife is also a realist, and we have shared enough road-trips together, that she also knows that there will be moments, and that they are inevitable. The current odds have us not making our own provincial border before the inevitable happens. That’s just three-hours in to a 31-day road-trip!! The favoured reason for the inevitable? Driving… mine or hers, doesn’t matter.
There is a large difference between this road-trip and those of the past. Not just because of my circumstances, but it is the first time that we are travelling without a time restraint. We have no where to be, and no particular time to be there at. Yes, hotels are reserved for certain dates, we’re not going full gypsy, and I do still have to receive my monthly dose of Zoledronic acid. But reservations can be cancelled and appointments re-scheduled.
The doctor has assured me that the schedule is flexible. After all, what’s missing one dose of bone strengthening meds going to do, kill me? I sometime think that they only give it to me so that I don’t feel like I’ve been forgotten by the system, and my chart tossed in the ‘lost cause’ file. When I’ve asked why I’m getting it, the only reply has been, “It’s the way we treat Myeloma patients.” I’m not a doctor, but maybe, considering there is no cure for Multiple Myeloma, they should consider trying something different. It’s just a thought.
The point is, this road-trip is different. We are not bound by being home at any particular time because we have to return to the job, or the kids need to be back at school. This road-trip, we can stop when we want to, extend our stay in places if we wish, change direction on a whim, or turn around anytime we want. We have a freedom on this road-trip that we have never had before. We can travel retired-style. This road-trip we can treat every day like we’re going for a ’drive’. Every day can have adventure, we can take the time to see new things, and visit places we have never been before, and we can end each day with ice-cream.