Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jennwith2ns and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Off

I just wasted an entire day trying not to.

"I've decided," I told my parents over the phone this morning, "that I need to do more interesting things on my days off." Like the trip to Noho, for example. More of that. I have found that, if I turn my computer on early in the morning, it is entirely possible that (if it hasn't shut itself off first) I will still be sitting at it by late afternoon. I don't like this propensity.

So today I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment trip to some seaside villages north of here. My brother and sister-in-law used to live in that area, but I haven't been there in a while. I thought I'd wander around some shops again, enjoy the ocean views, and maybe find some indie coffee shop somewhere, where I could drink a hot chocolate or something, and sit and write.

It was about 80 degrees outside, so I put on a tank top and shorts and sunscreen, remembering at the last minute that there was some talk of thunderstorms later in the day, and so throwing in a sweatshirt and a jacket.

By the time I got halfway to my destination, the sky was looking decidedly more overcast, and I considered getting off the highway early and spending the day in a mall. But that's just about as deplorable as spending it in front of a computer when it isn't part of one's job. Plus, as I had already proved in Noho, one doesn't need glorious sunshine to poke around in shops and cafes. Plus, I'm stubborn. I was kind of relishing the fact that I was being totally spontaneous--so spontaneous, in fact, that I didn't even really know where I was going.

Which is how I ended up missing a turn I hadn't known I wanted, getting all turned around, and having to start over on an earlier part of the highway I had already traversed. Which is how I got pulled over by a cop for not yielding to drivers in a roundabout. (Rotary. Traffic circle. Really useless type of road engineering. Whatever.) I got off with a written warning. Still, I was having serious second thoughts about the wisdom of this jaunt.

Particularly because, by the time I got to my destination, the temperature had dropped over thirty degrees. Thank goodness for the sweatshirt and jacket. Not so happy about the shorts. But I had just driven for two hours and gotten a written warning for a traffic violation, so I was not going to turn around and go home now. I was going to wander around in those shops if it was the last thing I did.

Sometime around the third shop, I realised it might be the last thing I did. There was a radio in there, and the voices coming out of it were going on about how there was a tornado watch in this area. Somehow a little seaside village didn't seem like the most sturdy place to be during a potential tornado, even though presumably seaside villages are actually sturdier than most. Still, it was only a watch, and besides, the alternative was to drive for two hours back through more tornado-watch country, and . . . like I said, I was going to wander around in those shops if it killed me. (In case you hadn't guessed, it didn't.)

By the time I had popped into all the shops which were interesting (which was a lot) and open (which seemed, somehow, to be fewer), it looked like the sea and the sky had merged and were about to get messy. I was hungry, and really just wanted to find a cafe to sit in and write, over a nice pastry. But all the cafes seemed to be rather tenuously perched, and I wasn't sure I felt like perching, exactly, anymore. Plus, the time was up in my parking meter, and I didn't want to bother anyone for change. So I left.

The weather turned suddenly raucous and scary. It took me over three hours to get home.

I was pretty cranky when I got there. I couldn't see . . . and still am having trouble seeing . . . the purpose behind a day like this, unless I'm meant to move to someplace like Bangladesh and needed the practice driving in life-threatening torrential rain. I was feeling guilty and thwarted for not having written anything. I was famished--and you don't want to see me when I'm famished. To top it all off, the gas gauge, which had been full when I left this morning, was registering a third of a tank. I had wasted a day and a large amount of really expensive petrol, I had polluted the environment for no good reason, and had nothing to show for it.

When I got home, there was a letter from this lovely lady who used to teach me Sunday school when I was nine. It was a great letter. Also, inside it was $50.

I still don't know what the point of today was. But I guess I feel less guilty and thwarted about it now. I didn't get a not-yielding-to-rotary-drivers ticket. I didn't get personally rained on. I didn't hydroplane off the road or into another vehicle. I got home safely. There was something to eat when I got there. And, apparently, my gas money was reimbursed.

I guess I feel like Someone knew all about it, and was watching me--but not so much with disgust because of my misuse of the day He had granted. More like He was watching out for me, no matter how trivial, and whatever the point.


Stacey said...

Oh Jenn, I'm so sorry your great day (of which I was quietly coveting as I read the beginning of your post - I so miss the ocean) turned out to be considerably less than satisfying.

I'm glad you're not thinking of moving to Australia and for your blog reader's sakes don't give up on your spontaneous adventures altogether. It's horribly fun to travel with you.

Annelise said...

Glad you made it home safely. Actually, Dad and I think round-abouts are more sensible than 4-way stops, but of course, living in Ireland, we're getting LOTS of practice with them!

Heather said...

this made me laugh! i wish i lived near you so we could take these trips together.

theitem said...

You get hassled by the Man a lot for such a nice girl. Non Servium!!

Jenn said...

Stacey and Heather--you two can come along any time. I probably would've had more fun if you did.

Mom--this doesn't make ANY sense, but I'm convinced that roundabouts work better when they go the other way.

Item--ya know? Really, I think it's that they just want an excuse to talk to me. P.S. They didn't offer Latin in my high school. Say what?

L.L. Barkat said...

Which coast? This post sounds like mine on Green Inventions. Tornado watches, trees smashing and crashing. I took home a similar thought... God is with me in the storms, in danger and in harm.

You must have taken different roads than I did though. I thought 40 minutes was a long time to get home. Three hours. Ouch. (Lots a thinkin' time there, eh?)

Annelise said...

Yes, I think you're right. Round-abouts do work better in reverse order!

Jenn said...

LL--same coast as you. But our baseball loyalties are likely vastly different. ;)

Christianne said...

Jenn, this post was hilarious! I love the way you write. If you ever wrote a book, I would snatch it right off the shelves and take it straight to the pay-for-it counter, even if it wasn't on sale! :)

Sorry your day was a bummer. I like the perspective you gained at the end, but even if you hadn't, it was still good to share your pain with you by reading about it. And I love the way you like to spend your free days -- spontaneous jaunts to inspiring places with an indie coffee shop and writing thrown in is just my style!

David A. Zimmerman said...

Great post, Jennn. If my Sunday school teacher had thrown money around like that, I'd probably be a lot further along in my faith journey by now--or else I'd be even more consumerist/materialistic.

I sympathize with your regular encounters with the law. I'll bet the constantly shifting eye color raises your threat profile a bit.

Jenn said...

Christianne--you can come, too. ;)

Zimm--I thought you could maybe sympathise. Sorry about that. And yes, I have pondered what would happen if I said something more creative than "blue" regarding the colour of my eyes on my license.