We were driving home to New Jersey from Connecticut after spending a lovely weekend with our son and his family. We had made this trip countless times. It's an easy ride; no major turns, from Routes 95 to 287 to 80.
Around an hour from home, I turned to Mighty Marc and said, "I don't remember seeing those buildings before, do you?"
He squinted at the landscape. "No. They weren't here last trip. How could they have built an entire shopping and apartment complex in just three weeks?"
"And look over there." I pointed. "They've also built a river."
"Yeah, I can see that. Where the hell are we?"
"It's hard to tell. All the road signs are in French."
Something was very wrong. We recognized nothing. It was apparent that we had veered off the main highway -- virtually impossible to do -- but somehow, we'd managed it.
We discussed how and where it had happened as we drove through this new town -- new to us, that is -- and so it shouldn't be a total loss, we stopped for a bite to eat and asked for directions to the Tappan Zee bridge.
This wasn't the first time something like this had occurred. We've bypassed destinations we know as well as the rooms in our house, sometimes driving as much as twelve to fifteen miles out of our way before realizing we've missed our mark.
There's a reason we do this so often. It has nothing to do with senility and everything to do with our inability to shut up and focus. We become so immersed in conversation that we completely forget we're in a car, heading for somewhere in particular. It's happened often enough that nearly every time we enter a car one of us tries to remember to remind the other one that this time we're going to pay attention.
It never happens.
Our jabbering can be about politics, religion, family, fashion, or tattoos. Like the time we drove by a herd of cows that were standing in a circle, with each cow facing into the center. "Look," I said, "they're having a cow-wow."
We laughed, and got lost.
The last time this happened we were heading for a specific restaurant, around 40 minutes from the house. I had been to the doctor that afternoon for a routine checkup -- as if checkups at my age are ever routine. While Mighty Marc drove, I reported the details of my visit.
"The doctor said I'm in good health." I said. "I reminded the doctor that ten years ago he told me I needn't be concerned about my heart murmur for at least ten years, and I'm starting to worry. So, he changed my deadline. Now I don't have to worry for another twenty years.
"Seriously?" Marc asked me. "I don't want to upset you, but odds are you won't be here in twenty years."
"But, just in case I am here, as I was leaving the doctor's office I started talking to an elderly woman who told me that three years earlier the doctor said she, too, had another twenty years, but she recently decided she no longer wanted them all. So, I asked if I could have some of hers. She looked to her husband for approval, he nodded, and they agreed to give me six. Isn't that terrific?"
We then discussed the ramifications of living that long: which of us could be trusted to cook without burning down the house, which of us would run over the most people on the road, what color motorized scooter we each wanted, and how many thousands of times we'd each say, "What?" Before we knew it we were driving through what I'm pretty sure was Montreal.
I love having a man who enjoys conversing with me -- someone who actually listens and gives me feedback. But not now -- not with the price of gas so high.