I used to have this habit of taking a detour, or the back roads, on my way home to extend my trip and time behind the wheel. I wasn’t lost, just driving for the sake of working through my thoughts. Many late nights in my late teens/early twenties found me driving down familiar country roads, music blaring, alone with my brain waves. Some people might have called it therapy.
We all need time to be alone with our thoughts, and this was that time for me. This was mostly on nights where a few extra minutes on the drive helped me come to terms with whatever events had transpired that night. I have always been a bit fidgety when I have something on my mind so I felt better behind the wheel than stuck sitting at home. Most often this was something that I did on great nights, where I just didn’t want the night to come to an end. Nights with music up high and the windows rolled down, serenading the dark country roads. I couldn’t have felt happier in those moments. Sometimes I would take a few extra turns if I had a big decision to make and needed to think about my options. No matter what happened, the long way home was my happy place. Maybe it was the added purpose of driving, or the music I played, or it was just all in my head. Regardless, it was where if felt at home.
“I never thought I’d be driving through the country just to drive with only music and the clothes that I woke up in.” – Therapy, Relient K
In the years since, I have lost that habit. Mostly because I now live in a crowded city, where driving is more of a chore than an escape (Ben wrote more about that feeling here). And as life gets busier in adulthood, it becomes harder to find the time to just be a little aimless. I don’t take the back ways anymore because the most direct route gets me home the fastest to get started on the next thing I need to do. It is good to have direction and purpose, but I do sometimes miss that feeling of letting go and losing myself in my thoughts.
Every once in awhile I still get back out to tear up those same back roads. To remind myself of the days past, and experience some driving therapy. To think and to just fly freely through the dark. Music up, windows down.