Thoughts while driving on the 401

Sunday morning.  I’m in Windsor, Ontario.  I have a long drive home.  At least a good 9 1/2 hours, if I don’t stop for eats or fuel.  And I’ll need to stop for eats and fuel.

It’s chilly and bleak along the 401, Ontario’s long provincial highway.  There’s a few gas stations here and there, enough for me to stop in, fill the Blackbird with fuel, grab a couple of diet colas and some chips, and keep on going. And as I’m driving along the highway, on my way back to the 518, there are many thoughts on my mind.

My daughter Cassaundra has finally broken free of a very toxic relationship, and she’s found a new girl – Tanya – to be part of her life.  It’s funny… two years ago Cassaundra was engaged to someone, and eventually they broke up.  And now Cassaundra’s Facebook page is filled with happy, smiling selfies with her and her new beau.  I wish the best for my daughter.  I never want her to worry or fear or suffer.  That’s all a father can do.

Did you know that there’s about 2,000 ginormous windmill turbines along the 401?  I swear, from Chatham to London it’s like windmill turbines everywhere.  I concentrate on the road, but my eyes keep being drawn to the stark beauty of these energy-generating propellers.  I might want to get out and take a picture of them.  I choose not to.  I’ve already seen at least two Ontario Provincial Police cruisers zip by me and I don’t feel like giving them a reason to pull me over.

I keep thinking about what could happen in 2015.  New competitions.  New adventures.  New experiences.  New relationships.  And maybe the Blackbird can get paid off three years ahead of its loan date.  I can hope. Diet cola tastes different in Canada than it does in the United States.  I don’t know why.  It just does.

I hate feeling bleak.

I take a glimpse at the ring I just acquired.  Damn that looks nice.  Only a glimpse.  I’m still driving.

For about two hours, my SiriusXM “70’s on 7” channel broadcasts, commercial free, an episode of American Top 40 from December of 1970.  It’s funny listening to Casey Kasem talk about the musicians and their achievements in a nearly 45-year-old audiophonic time capsule.  It also kills two hours of driving time.  George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” is the #1 song on the playlist, but my emotions are brought to tears upon hearing the song at #2 – the 5th Dimension’s “One Less Bell To Answer.”  What is it about Burt Bacharach / Hal David songs that make my emotions go haywire?

I stop at one of the rest areas for some food.  A cheeseburger, some poutine (hey, I’m in Canada) and a large diet cola.  The cashier tells me, “We don’t have any large cups today, we didn’t get our shipment last night.”  Instead, I’m drinking diet cola out of a grande coffee cup.  Go figure.

They have scratch-off lottery tickets in Canada.  I spent $10.  I won nothing.  Story of my life, I guess… The Blackbird’s odometer ticked 81,000 miles.  I thought to myself about whether the Pontiac 6000 could have made this journey without its engine falling out.  Or if my old Saturn Ion “Cardachrome” could have navigated the entire trip without some sort of electrical problem.  Damn I like this car.

Sometimes I think back at comments people have made about me – whether it was in school or in adult life – and I recall what happened during those times.  Did the results of those vicious, painful comments help me improve as a human being?  Did it insulate my heart against fracture and pain?  Did it soothe my soul against spears and shanks?  I want to say that it has, yes.  It’s that old adage that whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  Because I sure know that whatever does kill you, makes you dead.

One year ago, I watched four football games in the hopes that the Pittsburgh Steelers would win a playoff berth.  All they had to do was win their game, and then hope that the Chargers, Ravens and Dolphins all lost.  And everything happened that way – except for a last-second Chargers win.  This year, I know the Steelers are on their way to another Super Bowl championship.  It’s just how much collateral damage can they inflict on their opponents before they hoist that Lombardi Trophy.

I need to keep driving.  Maybe I can take a quick rest break at the duty-free store in Niagara Falls.  Pick up some goodies and gifts.  On second thought… maybe I’ll just change my pretty Canadian money into filthy American lucre and be on my way. 2015 is coming.

It’s a new year.  I have to embrace it.  I have to step out of my cocoon and move forward in my life.  I can’t keep letting people hurt me and demean me and make me feel like I’m responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the world.  I’m sick of people doing that to me.  Fifty-one years on this earth and people are STILL doing that to me.  I can’t keep being Pavlov’s dog and laying down on the electrified cage floor and taking the jolts like it’s my lot in life.

But it’s so hard for me to know something different. Embrace the new, Chuck.  Keep saying that.  Stay motivated.  Remember that 49th resolution, the last time you were in Ontario.  To not let people who put pains on your past, to lock chains on your future.  I’ve slipped lately.  I need to refocus.  And embrace the new.

Things are going to be tough for a while, blog readers.  I’m going through a rough patch and I don’t know how long it will take to fight through. Rest assured that I will find a way.  Just as I find my way off the 401.  And onto the 403.  And then the Queen Elizabeth Highway.  And then Provincial 420.  To 190.  and then I-90.  And then home.

That’s what we’re all hoping to do, right?  Find our way home.  And maybe, at some rest area along the 401, I’ll find a pair of ruby slippers and click my heels together three times.

With my luck, the minute I do that, someone will drop a house on me.

Ha.

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts while driving on the 401”

  1. Here’s to 2015 (raising my cup of coffee), hoping for an easier year. Your loyal blog readers will be with you in good times and more importantly, during the rough patches. We’ll make it through!

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  2. My most memorable experience driving on the 401 came 10 years ago as I was on the 401 going South from Gananoque to Kingston in late-January, with it being -27 Celsius out (-16 Fahrenheit). In that case, I was driving and saw a pickup truck speed by me with a hockey net in the back of the pickup. I was minding my own business later on when lo and behold, there was a hockey net in the middle of the 401, and I had to swerve around it to prevent my rental car from being damaged. What had happened was that the hockey net had become dislodged from the back of the pickup and the driver apparently didn’t notice that the net had fallen on the 401.

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