This is mid-term week at my college. It also marks the point in the semester when my schedule goes from crazy to rocking-in-a-corner-sucking-my-thumb-insane. Just when the weather has the potential for nasty, I get intimately acquainted with the one hundred miles of highway separating me from my family. Monday morning through Friday afternoon, I concentrate on my studies leaving the home front in the very capable hands of my husband. On weekends the focus is on my family. I work hard to not take schoolwork home. The two hundred miles I drive each week to college and back is just a fraction of the miles I drive when I was working and commuting eighty miles a day.
Now is the season of parent-teacher conferences; two extra trips home this week. One on the night before my toughest mid-term. I am on my local school board and we just began the search for a new superintendent. This brings two Monday night meetings a month instead of the usual one, as we meet with the search firm to define the most important qualities for our school’s administrator and then narrowing the, hopefully, mountain of applicants into finalists to interview, trying to make the best decision possible for our school and community. Of course, none of these meetings line up with fall break or any other days off and, except for one, need to be conducted during the week. More miles of empty highway.
There are four small towns in the one hundred miles between college and home. Less than 5,000 people, but more than tens of thousands of cows live along the way. Traffic is light and, except for an occasional deer, there is not much to watch out for. A friend of mine calls this windshield time. She composes some of her best writing driving down empty highways; sentences scribbled in a small notebook on the center console. I do this too. In addition to singing badly at the top of my lungs along with the radio, and talking to the imaginary person riding in the passenger seat, I work out whatever sticky piece of writing is in my head. I recently defined my writing process as thinking, thinking, thinking, scribbling and then typing, before thinking some more and revising.
I try to remember to be thankful for the hours of dedicated thinking time when I’m grumbling about the hours lost to the highway.