Part of the pleasure in coming home is remembering a trip. I thought of the odd things I didn’t write about, mostly things that didn’t fit anywhere else. Toothpaste is one of them. Does toothpaste go bad? My dentist gives patients a tiny tube at every six-month visit. I had three of them in my bag. It was late, and I was tired, so I presumed the paste looked gray because I was looking at a bit of gray sealing film. A day or so later I saw the paste itself was not white or blue or striped. I shrugged and used it anyway, figuring if it was lethal, I’d already be dead.
John plays a license plate game when driving. He has done this as long as I can remember. He glances at a vehicle he is passing and notes the state it comes from. When the children were little, he said the name out loud and occasionally had a map for them to color in each state he found. I should ask if it helped them with geography. The game begins when we pull out of the driveway and ends when we come home. He found all but four of the lower 48 states on this trip. We have seen Alaska plates occasionally and one from Hawaii only once. Would it be classified as distracted driving? Maybe not, because John is far-sighted, and he has memorized the distinctive colors. He also knows which states have tags on the back only and those with tags on front and back. When he sees gold and dark blue in the rear mirror, he says, “Here comes a New Yorker.”
The most amazing thing about this game is that he keeps it all in his head! If I were playing, I’d write the list in alphabetical order and wouldn’t know which states were missing. After driving for several hours, I’ll ask what he has found. He’ll say he has all the northern states from Maine to California or all those from New England. On this trip he had everything east of the Mississippi River except three in the northeast. By that, you can tell he has a permanent map in his head. The states he spotted probably glowed in living color. How can one head hold all that information as he drives for thousands of miles?
John sees more while driving than I do while concentrating on looking out of the window. He saw a hearse pulling a boat! Tennesseans take fishing and boating seriously, so I’m wondering if yesterday there was a casket in a boat for one last ride around the lake.
There is always one motel room that was the worst. This trip, it was the last one. The outside looked fine, and the desk clerk seemed normal. We had our suspicions when we got out of the elevator and smelled air freshener. Surely the room would be okay. We opened the door and were hit by the overpowering smell of odd flowers. You know how suspicious people in the movies search for a bug that records their voices? We looked for the air freshener with the same intensity. We think it was in the air conditioner, so we turned it off. Luckily we didn’t bake through the night.
During the last trip, I complained about toilets designed for short six-year-olds. This time we had a bathroom designed for a basketball player, one with six-foot arms. The toilet paper holder was on the opposite wall from the toilet! What was the designer thinking? Walking across the bathroom to get toilet paper is not normal.
The bathroom high point was a newly installed sink. I wash hose every night, and I can tell you that 90% of the time the stopper won’t work in a motel room. I’ve seen a stopper so crooked that it couldn’t fit in the hole. Most lead you to believe you can trust them for five minutes, and they suck the water out in ten seconds. I’m surprised they don’t slurp and burp. Well, this good one was like newer tub stoppers, the kind you step on to close. No, I didn’t use my foot in the sink. I pressed it with my hand, and it would have held water for 24 hours! Stoppers in heaven are going to work like that.
Speaking of heaven, coming home was heavenly. It was way past lunchtime, so John took David and me out to lunch at Bogart’s. David and I flopped in chairs in front of the TV, while John packed for his early-morning departure to the train club. We chatted while watching some show about rehabbing mansions. I walked through our non-mansion house, and I was pleased with the neatness of it (!!!), the height of the ceilings, and the spaciousness and lightness of the rooms. Dark colors are “in” for motel décor, and my reaction was appreciation for light and space to move about. How blessed we are to live here!