Thursday, August 11, 2011

Travel Anxiety

To say I get anxious when I am going anywhere that involves an overnight bag and a car is an understatement. In the minutes leading up to any trip, I just snap. I yell, I throw things, I call my husband and my kids mean names (under my breath of course). My mind just turns into a jumble of random thoughts...toothbrush, underwear, kids clothes, wait do those outfits match, kids jackets, makeup, eye make up remover, deodorant, did I grab toothbrushes? I have tried lists, pre packing, last minute packing, and even drunk packing. Nothing ever seems to tame my last minute jitters. So tonight, when I was packing to leave the country, I was even more tense.

I can't help but think my past experience in cars may have something to do with my fear. I have had some bad road trip as well as on road experiences. I recall one year we took a family trip to Ocean City. I was six and when I say family, I mean my whole mom's side of the family. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, the whole clan was there. The ride home was to say the least a nightmare. It turned for me when I left my seal in the bathroom at Burger King. The seal was a stuffed souvenir from Sea World, which used to be an hour away from us. I took him all over the place that summer, so of course he made the drive to Ocean City. Then it went from bad to worse. My dad was driving and cut off a semi. Maybe the semi cut him off, I cant really be too sure. But we were stopped in traffic and its started as a honking and gesture war. Next thing I knew my dad and this very large truck driver were in the middle of the highway about to throw punches. My dad, (keep in mind this was 1986)..had his shirt unbuttoned and was rocking his usual tighty coaches shorts. He took a shot and ran back to the car. The trucker came over and there was some swearing and four letter words being tossed around. Then next thing I knew we were traveling up the side of the highway at a very fast speed with the trucker somehow swerving in traffic to catch us. Did I mention my grandparents were in the car? Soon after a trip to the police station and a good head start we were safely on our way to Ohio.

If that was how my car anxiety started, It was then doubled by car sickness, and my own run in with a semi truck. Two weeks after getting my license in my 1987 Sunbird, I was trying to rewind my tape. I was listening to Bone Thugs N Harmony, "Buddah Lovers " (no judgement) and of course I wanted to hear it again. (it was the song of 1995 when I got my license). Looking down for a split second, I looked up again. The semi had stopped. I swerved to hit the back of the left tire. Did I mention our Brazilian exchange student was in the car? Fifty stitches and a plastic surgery later, I still see my "humpty dumpty" scar when I wash my face, put on make up, etc. I will say this, for anyone who has ever been in a car accident, that feeling of loss of control will never go away. I am always doing the foot on the "brake" and holding onto the "oh shit" bar when I ride in the passenger seat.

Today, I was thinking road anxiety the whole way. Also there is the whole crossing the boarder thing. I have never been to Canada. I was expecting a smooth transition. All things were covered, kids were packed, groceries bought, air mattress, air pump, books to read, car packed. Last week I had told Josh to grab the girls birth certificates, and the dog's medical papers. We had boarder cards and passports. I am eating my dinner (crab cake salad, yum..) then Josh asks "Where is Olivia's birth certificate?"

Me: In the file, in the folder labeled "Birth Certificates"
This strikes me as odd..Layla's birth certificate has been sitting out all week next to Nomi's dog papers. I assumed Liv's was under it the whole time....

Josh: Didn't you set it out with Layla's
Me: I didn't set that stuff out. I thought you did
Josh: No, where is Olivia's birth certificate
Me: in the file

Confused, we start ruffling through our files and different paper piles laying around the desk and the kid's art area

Josh (to Olivia): Did you touch your birth certificate.
Olivia: no
Josh: It looks like this (he holds up Layla's)

Olivia paused and didn't say much. Then she looks down in shame...missing shoelaces shame

Me: This is not like the shoelaces...this is much more important. without it, you cant get into Canada
Olivia: Yeah I took it out. I just wanted to see it
Me: Why were you in the important files?
Olivia: I had it on my desk

So we tore apart the desk area, both their rooms, our desk, the kitchen, etc. etc. Here we were, three hours from departing and no birth certificate. Did I mention she was born in a county three hours away, so waiting until morning to get a fresh copy was not an option. I lingered between wanting to ring her little neck to wanting to ring Josh's big neck. Why did she take it? Why couldn't he have asked this question yesterday? Why was this happening? Were we doomed not to take a vacation. Luckily, our neighbor came to the rescue. He texted the principal at their school and they were able to go to the office and copy her school file one.

With all this anxiety in place it is a wonder I haven't had a "pre trip" heart attack. I try to prepare myself for all obstacles, but living with Miss. I can't keep my hands off other people's property, it is hard to expect anything but confusion and last minute chaos.

So I bid you all good night. It is going to be a few days before I will post again. I will be in the remote and international calling charge area of Canada. Time to turn to the woods and nature to recharge my batteries. I am sure I will be back with plenty of good pictures and even better stories.


  1. Good to know there are others who have driving anxiety AND pre-trip drama. By now you're almost there. (It's 6 am on Friday the 12th). By the time you read this, you'll be home. I hope you're glad you went.

    Great writing, by the way!

  2. Kristen, Kristen, Kristen,

    Have you learned nothing from me? DO NOT trust the man! If it needs to be done and done right, you must do it yourself. (I hate to sound like a man-basher but 46 years of experience has proven me right).

    I hope you and the girls love the cabin as much as Josh. I know he always enjoyed going up there with the Henery's and is excited for you and the girls to spend time there.

    Have fun, read, rest, and play with the girls (and boys).


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