Spinning My Wheels

This is an odd sort of journey I am on. In some ways it’s better than I imagined because of the people I have met and and those I have re-met, but the original focus of the journey has been lost somewhere in the thousands of miles I have traveled.

I expected this trip to be sort of a sampler hike across the United States — driving a bit, camping, hiking, then taking off down the road for a couple of hours until I found another great place to camp and hike. I envisioned a spiritual journey, a deeper connection with the world and myself, but what I am getting is perhaps more precious — a deeper connection with people. It turns out that instead of occasionally visiting folks between bouts of camping, I have occasional bouts of camping between visiting folks. Not a bad trade-off.

Still, there are many times when I wonder if I am just spinning my wheels, traveling to no purpose. Yesterday was such a day. Although east Texas is vastly different from west Texas with shades of green rather than tones of taupe, the scene blurred after several hours, especially when, except for a few urban breaks, the view remained the same through northern Louisiana and Mississippi. And most especially when it rained, turning everything a misty gray.

I never expected to have days of driving such vast distances, never expected to drive in the rain, but what else was there to do? I couldn’t camp where I had planned in the piney woods of Texas, couldn’t even drive the roads I wanted because of flooding, so I took the high road. (There was still flooding, but the water had receded from the roadbed.) Every time I stopped to get a motel to wait out the rain, the rain stopped. So I continued, and so did the rain. Lots of rain.

I’d forgotten that not all places experience the long twilights of the west, so it came as a surprise that as soon as the sun set, it grew dark. And the rain got worse. And lightning and thunder came. And I got lost. I had gotten off the highway because a motel was supposed to be at that exit, but the motel turned out to be a mile down a narrow road, so I got back on the highway. Or so I thought. I ended up . . . I don’t know where.

Dark. Rain. Traffic. Yikes. Luckily, I found a place to turn around and somehow ended back on the interstate.

I did finally find a place for the night — an isolated motel with no gas station, store, or restaurant nearby. Only cows. The rain continued most of the night, and is still misting.

During that interminable drive, I let thoughts drift into and out of my mind, though as the miles and hours passed, the wheel-spinning thoughts came more frequently. And stayed. I wished I could go back to my father’s house. Wished even more I could go home to Jeff. Wished I knew what I was doing.

But my car wheels kept going around and around, taking me . . . somewhere.

Despite the rain and what could have been self-defeating thoughts, I did end up accomplishing something — I am now a scant 100 miles away from meeting a dear friend.

And so the wheel turns . . .


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


4 Responses to “Spinning My Wheels”

  1. snakesinthegrass2014 Says:

    Of all the posts you’ve written on your journey, this one is my favorite so far. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    There ought to be a book in this sort of like the classic “Blue Highways” from many years ago.

  3. Coco Ihle Says:

    This post had been really interesting to me, Pat. With my background of foster care/adoption, all my life I’ve been searching for a sense of belonging to someone or to a root place. Your background is different, but in this post it seems you are doing the same thing. I think we humans have a basic need for companionship or a sense of roots. Being alone doesn’t accomplish as much contentment, I’ve found. For me, my most profound satisfactions in life have come about by helping someone else, sometimes in a small way. You devoted a lot of time, emotion, effort, and love in your care for Jeff and your dad, and even your brother, but circumstances didn’t give you a choice with them. Now, your life is different, your discoveries are too. I’m eager to see how you traverse this road and what conclusions you gain from this experience. I’m following along as you keep on travelin’.

  4. Constance Says:

    Maybe, you could turn your journey into another book. It is very interesting.
    Glad to hear from you.

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