Being stuck in Florida for a weekend has some advantages. It's probably not going to snow and since its February I'm pretty sure hurricanes aren't going to be a problem. It's probably not going to freeze or require the use of a coat or a jacket for that matter.
Pretty sure there's a beach nearby and both an ocean and a gulf. There's lots of places to take go for a walk and there will be a time for introspection should the need arise.
The problem with being stranded anyplace for a weekend means another couple of days of quality lost time with family and friends.
Last year I was out 189 days, which was the first time I haven't broken 200 days. My record is 300. My average year is around 220 days.
There are many times when one more hour on the road is more than I can stand. But there are days when the road beckons. When the distance horizon calls out to me demanding to meet. Pulling towards the next horizon. Many times when the hum of wheels on the pavement is a birding lullaby that drags me forward the brake pedal never a thought. The radio on or off. Windows down and fresh air lapping against my face the smells of smog and exhaust are almost like a drug.
When the smell of fresh cut grass from roadside workers filters across my nose, reminding of my own lawn and the tending that it requires. Lost in my own head my thoughts ping ponging from one thought to the next. Subjects coming and going my synapses firing. My eyes covered with images and the road in front of me is just background noise.
My GPS is on but I'm not really watching it. My exit goes by I am only faintly aware I've missed it. I am consumed with random thoughts or working a problem from front to back. The highway and the cars around me filtered from my eyes. I am carried away to other distant places and long forgotten times.
If you're watching you to see the cascading memories filter across my brow occasionally making it past my eyes. The emotions playing across my face. A smile, a frown mixed with bursts of laughter. Conversations only I can hear replaying on a loop.
When I'm near a downtown I see exits I've seen elsewhere. Attractions the locals think are unique to their little hamlet unaware the same places exist everywhere else the names different but the concept the same.
Blue collar bars and gentleman's clubs. Cities bathed in a neon hue. Pick up joints and playgrounds. Downtown concerts and art galleries. Moths to the flame. Young and old running about in 4-wheeled metal coffins, their windows up lost in their own worlds.
All of it, I've seen in a thousand cities and blue collar towns. Working women in sling back heels and mini skirts their worlds apart from the passing cars. Boys in the hood standing on street corners. Living and working in an underground economy. Despair and thousand yard stares.
Men in buttoned down suits walking on the promenade. Their hands filled with phones and briefcases, each of them move up and out in the world. Their worlds consumed with thoughts of power and politics.
Main street and MLK Blvd every city has them. Traffic jams and parking garages are the big city drive. Sports talk radio and techno mix radio stations filling the same dead air with the same nasally drowned out disk jockeys. Irritating morning zoos.
It's 8 to 5 and its a grind. But for the road warrior its 24/7. 365 our grinds never stop. Hotels and motels. Drive through fast food. Morning, noon and night the road warrior never stops. Airports and rental cars we navigate the world easily. Passports for foreign lands and different time zones. Every week our grind never stops.
When I come through the door, I am filled with overwhelming pride and joy. My kids are bigger, stronger and more happy than the last time I saw them. My wife more beautiful than I remember. And for a few hours there is just us. We are a family again and I never want to leave. My conscience is riddled with guilt over not spending the needed time at home. Sadness descend Saturday afternoon because I know my precious time at home is drawing to a close. Soon I am going to have to prepare them again for my Monday morning departure.
And when I do I hurt inside as their little faces drop and smiles fade. I live for them and tell myself I am providing a better life for their future. I always wonder at what cost. God, how I hate the road. And in that moment all I want to do is chuck it and fuck it. At this moment I regret ever starting down the life of a road warrior. Because now I fear there is no turning back. I watch my kids grow up in cell phone pictures and I hate myself for it.
My attention turns to the woman I love and who I am unquestionably devoted to. So thankful I am for her entry into my life. 10 years pass and I can't remember a time when she wasn't a part of my life. So good and pure that I feel naked and exposed. A sense of failure and dread overcome me. I know my time away takes a toll on her. And I love her all the more for all that she does. I stand in wonder and admiration because I know she is stronger, tougher and better than I. How she does it, I will never know because she grinds is 24/7 365. My heart burst with pride because she does so much. Our kids a reflection of all that she is. I know I don't deserve her, but am so grateful she stands with me. Beside me she lifts my spirits gives me the strength I need. I move to embrace her. To hold her and love her. I never want to let go.
On weekends we cram 7 days into 48 hours. It's time to decompress, but not too much because the road starts to beckon the rush of that unseen horizon starts to pull like a magnet. I am again a moth to the flame.