I can make it in eight hours pedal-to-the-metal. Eight hours from my house to my parents' two states away. Eight hours from one role to another, eight hours from one set of duties to another. Eight hours of driving, thinking, listening to music, fiddling with the radio, eating pretzels, chewing gum and sipping tea (those last three to stay awake).
Yesterday I pulled off at one of my favorite rest stops, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and took a trail I'd never noticed before. It circled back behind the visitor's center, up a little rise, along a path of soft, springy pine needles. At the end of the trail there was a panoramic view of the Greenbrier Resort, one of those fabled old-time places known for discrete luxury.
I looked at the white building and manicured lawn and wondered what I would do if I was there. Read? Swim? Bike? Have a massage or manicure? Pamper myself? Eat too much rich food?
I'm sure it would be nice, but not high on my list. On the other hand, I was delighted to have found this trail, to stretch my legs and take this tiny hike. So I stood for a while and savored the view. The drive is my Greenbrier, I said to myself, my one-day respite. During the eight hours I'm neither mother, nor wife, nor daughter. I am just me, out for a spin, exploring the person I used to be.