Yesterday I drove through the state of Idaho. After dropping Grant off at college, Ken and I followed our Google-Maps directions as carefully as we could, working our way across wide-open spaces crisscrossed by highways. Considering neither of us had ever made the trip before, we did pretty well until we got a little off track in Twin Falls, where we had to ask directions from the lone worker at the Reeder Flying Service (airport). “Just go back across the canal, turn left at the first intersection,” she said flatly, “then drive about five miles, and you’ll catch 93.”
Canal? Was there a canal? I’d been trying my best to appreciate the endless bucolic scenery, but I’m a city girl, and honestly I didn’t even notice a canal. Intersection? Why yes, two roads did cross but without even a stop sign to mark said junction. Nonetheless, we gulped, crossed our fingers, and turned down the long road, which started out as more gravel than pavement. We hoped we were on the right path but saw virtually no road signs to reassure us. My friends will tell you I like a good adventure, but wasting time backtracking on a 14-hour drive is not my idea of a good time.
We finally did catch Route 93, although for a long stretch it didn't have a sign posted either. For some reason, no one we knew had ever mentioned this two-lane highway was not just a short connecting route. No, we would stay on this lonely road for a couple hours before we'd have the comfort of seeing signs for I-80. Never in my life have I been so happy to approach Wells, Nevada, a virtual spit in the road.
I have a new respect for country folks; they have more faith than I do. They seem to be comfortable navigating across open territory by just paying attention to the land with very few signs to guide them. I, on the other hand, was raised in L.A. and came to rely heavily on an overabundance of road signs and other markers.
Today I turned fifty years old, and I’m heading into a new phase of life that appears much less predictable than the first half. Our oldest child just got married and headed off to graduate school; we helped two other children get settled at their respective universities; another is serving out of the country. So, we’re down to just one child at home, and I’m not exactly sure what I should be doing with my extra time. It’s not that I don’t have things I want to do; it’s just that in the past I’ve known better what I should do. Unlike my children, I don’t have a set of textbooks to tackle or classes to attend; instead, I have freedom to pursue whatever I choose. Sure, I have a sense of which direction to go, but I worry a little about wasting time meandering down “gravel roads” leading nowhere in particular, especially since the next decades, I’m told, will fly by very quickly. I realize this uncertainty is also part of the excitement, so I only ask one thing: just give me a sign!