Midnight Drive

Back in Indiana for three nights, and then I turn around and head back to Tennessee with my husband and kids for my family’s Thanksgiving. This is going to be Hell Week for me.

My husband is either working from home or off work until the Monday after Thanksgiving. My anxiety is already spiking and my chest is hurting. So, instead of dwelling on that, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite things I did while in Tennessee.

Thursday night there was supposed to be a rare meteor shower. I wanted to watch, if I could, so I stayed up late and headed out deeper into rural Tennessee to see if I could find a spot to watch. There were a few issues – I fought with my GPS about which way to go – no, bitch, don’t reroute me to the interstate, I don’t care if it’s faster. Then it turned out “rural” Tennessee in that region is still pretty built up so I wasn’t really managing to escape the light pollution. Of course, ultimately, neither of those problems mattered because the primary problem was that there was a thin cloud cover that refused to go away.

I was disappointed I didn’t get to see a meteor shower but I found that while I drove through the dark down unfamiliar, twisting roads while listening to a relaxing playlist that I was, indeed, relaxing. I saw a possum, a fox trotting through a field, and a doe. The latter had me braking and my new car’s life flashing before my eyes but she turned and ran away from the road.

The next night, I took another late night drive. I realized without my husband there, I could do whatever fucking thing I wanted and didn’t have to justify or explain it to anyone. I’d already been sleeping like shit, so going to bed after midnight instead of at ten didn’t seem like it should make much of a difference.

It did make a difference, but it was an unexpected, positive difference. I went to bed feeling tired, and even though I still slept poorly and woke up several times, I fell back to sleep easier than before. I started to wonder if ten might be too early for my body’s rhythms.

Of course, there’s a major problem with trying to stay up a couple of hours later to see if it helps. If I stay up that late, my husband will stay up that late, and then I will have to deal with him one-on-one for a couple of hours after the kids are in bed. That’s not an appealing prospect. Trying to arrange to sleep in different rooms won’t go well, either – I’ll be butting heads with his ‘all space is my space’ attitude. He will want to watch TV in the bedroom, or play World of Warcraft in the living room, depending on his whim, and he certainly won’t want to sleep on the futon instead of his nice mattress.

I can’t go driving for an hour or two every night. Now that we’re heading into winter it will get too cold to be comfortable walking late at night. I thought of the possibility of taking my laptop and hanging out at a Starbucks, but the latest any stay open around here is 11pm. So I’m not sure how I can try to stay up later and reduce my stress but I’ll keep thinking about it.

My last night at my dad’s I planned a more intricate route that would take me away from the more populated highways, eventually bringing me to a cemetery and then circling back to the highway that would take me back to my dad’s. I headed out around 10:30pm. The route I planned utterly failed at relaxing me. It turns out some of those roads were tiny, twisty things that didn’t seem like they’d be large enough to allow two cars to pass going in opposite directions. They were delightfully, atmospherically creepy, too. I never discovered if these smaller roads were wide enough to permit two vehicles because I never saw any other cars on them, even though there were obviously occupied houses along the route.

The cemetery was not gated and I was able to drive right in and park. It was frigid, raining and gusting wind, so I didn’t stay very long, but by enormous coincidence I parked next to a rough specimen of a tree stump gravestone, which I hadn’t even expected to find in Tennessee. I then headed back to my dad’s, stopping at a cool bridge along the way where I parked and walked out a short ways to take some pictures.

Also, hopping back a day, Friday’s route included a street named Swannsylvania, which made me instantly think of vampire swans. (Yes, I’ve been informed by linguistically minded friends that it means something to the effect of Swann’s Forest but my linguistic ignorance led to something beautiful and I’m including a photo of my sketch of a vampire swan.)

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