I do not like adventures. I am not brave. I am not a thrill-seeker. I like peace. I like calm. I am like a quiet-junkie, if that would be the opposite of an adrenaline junkie.
The first few months after we moved here Devin had to go to a lot of conferences and meetings. He promised me in June that he would not go on any more trips until October. Then he got invited to give a talk at a conference in Minneapolis. I told him of course he should go. He found out there were no good flights, so he would either have to fly out the day before, and stay an extra night, or drive. He decided he would drive. I told him that if he was going to be driving, we'd be going with him. I had my motives.
So we get to Minneapolis and I remembered that I have some friends that live in the area, so I looked up the lovely Nicky and asked her if I could come visit her. She said ok!, and we made quick plans. As I was packing the diaper bag and finding shoes to get ready to drive out to where she lives (half an hour away from downtown Minneapolis, where our hotel was) I started thinking about what I had committed myself to doing. Driving. Me. In the city. With all the other cars. And merging. And construction. And traffic. Me.
I tried not to panic. Normally I'm the type that would just hole up in the hotel room whilst waiting for Devin (like I did when we came to Lincoln to interview, I spent a day and a half sitting on a couch in the hotel, sewing Hallie's quilt.) The main difference this time however were the two small children who were dying of boredom in the hotel room, and the fact that I actually knew people and wanted to visit them in this place.
We went down to the car. I was still trying to fight down my irrational fears. It will be fine, I told myself over and over. We drove out of the parking garage into the sunlight. Cars were streaming past. I took a deep breath. I turn left and begin heading towards the freeway. So do all the other cars.
Have you ever been at an amusement park, just enjoying the sunshine and the cotton candy when all of a sudden your older brother has talked you into riding on the most hugely ridiculously spirally ride ever invented and before you know it you are being strapped in to a death machine? You tell yourself it will be ok, and then the ride slowly jerks into motion. You grip the armrests tight and remind yourself to breathe. And you're actually sort of enjoying yourself until your seat tilts upward at a disturbing angle and you know that the drop is coming.
They don't let you off of roller coasters mid ride, and once you have put yourself in the lane to merge onto a highway, you're just as committed. I had a ball of furiously nervous energy coiled in my gut and hot beads of perspiration rolling down my arms. I was two seconds away from hyperventilating and three seconds from passing out. The one difference between riding a roller coaster and merging onto I-35W is that on the roller coaster it is permissible, perhaps even expected, to close your eyes and scream.
It was supposed to be a thirty minute drive to Nicky's house. I drove for two hours, and when I finally found the exit that was minutes from her house, it was closed for construction. In those two hours of driving I had pulled over once, turned around five times, driven the full length of Long Lake Road-twice (Long Lake Road was nowhere near where I was supposed to be, I discovered later after looking at a map). I had said three prayers, saved the life of one squirrel, and had twice sat hunched over a map sobbing for my mother.
Because you see, not only was I unable to find Nicky's house, but my only directions back to the hotel were from there. And in this modern world, if you don't have GPS and you don't have a cell phone and the only map you have doesn't show Long Lake Road on it, you are lost. Very, very lost.
In the end, once I finally found Nicky's exit, only to realize that it was closed, I took a deep breath, told myself to be an adult, and got ready to face the traffic surrounding the twin cities area again. Prayers were answered and we made it home safe and sound, hungry, tired, and very very disappointed, but home. Well, as much home as that hotel in downtown Minneapolis was.