I'm not sure which was more difficult for this quiet introvert: Transitioning from the solitary introspection of a seven-hour road trip to the boisterous celebration of the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Tribe of Loud, Smart, Funny Women and Men (emphasis on the loud), or re-acclimating to the silence on the way home.
Speaking of quiet car rides . . . I was a little surprised to find that I hadn't worked my way through all the Billy Joel albums on my iPod by the time I got to Ohio. I was a little embarrassed to find I still hadn't made it through my play list by the time I returned home to Iowa.
And another thing about driving . . . One of the best but overlooked aspects of the workshop? The door-to-door shuttle service between the hotel and the classes. Back home I am the shuttle service. And, unlike my kids, my fellow shuttle-ers were always ready to talk!
Speaking of kids . . . When I returned to my hotel room each day, my bed was made-made (not just straightened) and all my crap was neatly arranged on the bathroom counter. I wondered if this is what my family feels like when they come home at the end of the day.
Speaking of being a mom . . . Shout out to the guy at the gas station in Indiana who called me “Miss” when trying to get my attention. I wasn't ignoring you. It just took me a while to realize you were talking to me.
Speaking of Indiana drivers . . . Does everyone there drive like they're qualifying for the Indy 500? I worried I might lose time by taking a two-lane “shortcut,” but pulled in behind a line of cars going darn near the same speed we were on the interstate! Not that I'm complaining!
Speaking of GPS shortcuts . . . This was the second time I relied solely on my car's navigation system. There's something reassuring about the confidence with which Sally (my GPS) gives directions. I may not know where we're going – heck, Sally may not know – but by god, we're going there with confidence!
Speaking of Sally's confidence . . . I'm good with her confidence, but does she have to sound so exasperated when she says “recalculating”?
Speaking of recalculating . . . I'm not willing to take all the blame for Sunday morning's little excursion through downtown Dayton in search of an on-ramp, Sally. “Keep left” is a bit wishy-washy, don't you think? It's either turn or don't turn. On the plus side, there's very little traffic in downtown Dayton on a Sunday morning.
Speaking of speaking . . . About the fourth time Sally exasperatedly told me she was “recalculating” I started wishing she had a little of the warmth and wisdom of the Erma Tribe. The new and improved Sally – nicknamed “Erma,” of course – would have laughed and joked when I missed that turn. “ErmaGPS” would have known instinctively that I was not ignoring her demands, but searching frantically for a Waffle House. “ErmaGPS” would have pointed out that I could never make it 65 miles until the next rest stop.
In other words . . . Sally's a great gal and all, but if she really wanted me to listen to her, she'd try to sound a bit more like Erma.
Or like Billy Joel.