Two years ago, Cabbage and I drove to Denver for Christmas. It was a quick turnaround over a long weekend, and we planned to log about 2,000 miles round trip.
We started after I worked a half day and drove all afternoon, through the scrubby hills of Texas and northward to the plains as darkness fell. We reached a town that marked our decision point; either stop for the night or push on. Tracking a winter storm on our phones, we decided to push through and barely stopped for food and fuel. Georgie, always an excellent travelling companion, peed quickly on a light dusting of snow and loaded up again in the back seat.
It became colder as night fell and the wind picked up. Cabbage drove with a firm grip on the wheel and held the truck against the wind. Pheasants hurtled across the road, thrown from their roosts by the gale and powerless to chart their flight.
I reached back to stroke Georgie's head, offered her a drink of water, then tried to rest. My feet were swelling so I propped them up on the dash. Not usually a napper, I'd discovered the bliss of drifting off. I was sleeping for two.
In my belly, our baby-to-be stirred, then frog-kicked me. "Hi, Beep. You're awake?" We had called the baby Beep practically since conception. "Oh, Baby, not there. Don't stop there. Can you move, please?" A massaging rub, then a few pokes, and the baby was still sitting directly on my bladder.
We had just stopped for a bathroom break not twenty minutes earlier. "Beep...Please move?" Still nothing. Shifting in my seat, drinking cold water, nothing persuaded the baby to move again. There was nothing else for it.
"Cabbage, I'm sorry but I have to pee again. I know we just stopped, but your child is sitting directly on my bladder."
"Sure, no problem." Thank goodness he understands, I thought. We found another restroom.
We drove through a string of tiny towns and found ourselves battling a nasty storm. The snow was flying horizontally, driven mercilessly sideways in blinding sheets by a vicious wind. It slowed us to a crawl, but there was no place to pull over. We pushed forward, finding our way foot by foot by following the lines painted on the road. After a time, the wind quieted and we picked up speed again.
I was driving when we slipped through a bit of New Mexico and into southern Colorado. My baby squirmed inside and then stilled again, napping. Over my shoulder Georgie slept, and to my right Cabbage had finally closed his tired eyes and fallen into a deep sleep.
The sun was rising as we rounded a curve and descended a steep incline. The plains stretching to my right and mountains to my left were revealed as familiar. I'd spent my childhood visiting southern Colorado, and this stretch of road was well known to me. The landscape was scoured clean and glittering with virgin snow ruffled by sage. Everything was icy white with the palest of blue winter skies above. So clear and beautiful that I felt pity for all those warm and cozy in their beds, missing that singular moment.
I pressed play on the CD and turned down the volume, just barely able to hear the lovely song I knew would become the soundtrack for this memory which so captured that time of my life. 2000 Miles by Coldplay.
My family surrounded me and slept, and I laid a hand on my unborn child. I welcomed the beauty of the new day as I traveled through memories, over the road, and toward Christmas.