You know that thing that happens when you’ve driven a route so many blasted times that you eventually just black out whilst driving?
Suddenly you’re at your destination and you have no idea what happened in between your departure and arrival. I know this phenomenon (it is an actual thing right? I’m not craycray?) has a name—at least, I’m pretty sure it does. I think I’ve heard people talking about it before.
Well whatever it’s called—we’ll call it mental cruise control for our purposes here—it happens to me frequently. On my way to evening classes, on my way to work, on my way home, to Starbucks, the bank, whatever. And it freaks me out. Especially the longer drives. I mean, it’s actually pretty dangerous, to just tune out like that. What if I crashed into someone and didn’t even notice? A little bumper tap and I kept going? Or what if I drove by some movie star, without evening noticing? Okay, the likelihood of that happening in Rhode Island is slim to absolutely none, but you get it.
The only thing, and I mean only, that wakes me out of this cruise control stupor is this sign that I see on the highway—bright yellow with black letters. “Freeway Ends. Signal Ahead.” And then I realize I’m ten minutes from home and, what the heck’s happened?
I’m not here to discuss my driving habits, because I’d probably just get yelled at. The point is, I don’t want to wake up from some mental stupor at the age of 75 and realize that, oh my God, that bright light ahead? Yeah, that’s the after life. Cause I’m dead.
I don’t want to live in cruise control. I can’t live like that. When the freeway ends, this road between my life now and the life I’ll be living some day, I want to know what I’ve done in between my departure and arrival. I want to know that I paid attention to every little thing I could possibly see. I want to remember all those flat tires, breakdowns, horn-honking, traffic-bearing, road-raging moments.
Because, if I don’t remember the drive, was it really a drive at all?