The first time I can remember thinking Michael could be “The One” was the evening he first asked me if I wanted to go for a drive.
“Sure,” I said. “Where?”
“How about Moncton?”
“What do you need in Moncton?” I asked.
“Nothing. Why? Don’t you want to go?”
“Moncton is an hour and a half away. That’s not a drive. That’s a trip. And you’re sure you don’t need anything there?”
“So? We’ll go see what’s going on tonight. It’s the weekend, you never know what we’ll find. And I’ll take you to Deluxe for fish and chips. You’ll love it.”
This was almost incomprehensible to me. Traveling was a task, not something you did for fun. I grew up in a family that never set foot outside the yard without a good reason. A vacation to PEI would take a month of planning, and we stayed with relatives. Moncton or Fredericton was usually the result of a doctor’s appointment, or a funeral. I swear my mother would make sure her passport was in order before making the twenty-five minute trip to Newcastle, and that was usually only to meet someone at the train station.
And eating at a restaurant? Not likely. The cooler was packed with god-awful egg salad sandwiches, watery Kool-Aid and a thermos of tea. If you were really good (and I mean really) you might get to stop for an ice cream at some roadside stand on the way home. But we’d drive right by if there was any kind of a line-up.
So the idea of traveling just for fun was completely alien to me. “Are you sure?” I asked him, still thinking there must be some ulterior motive.
“Yeah, c’mon, it’ll be fun.”
So, despite my mother’s evil eye and suspicious nature (”He’s up to something, no one goes to Moncton just to look around”), I went. And you know what? It was fun. We cruised Mountain Road and Main Street for a while, we shopped for a bit, and he took me for supper at Deluxe.
But the best part? The best part was the time traveling to and from, the three hours I had him all to myself. Understand, this was in the late 80’s, there were no cell phones, no one tracking you down or interrupting you. For those three hours, I had his undivided attention, and he had mine. We talked about all sorts of things: movies, music, stories from our past, plans for the future, you name it. We were still in the early stages of our relationship, and I think I learned more about him during that drive than all the time we had spent together before that.
From then on, things didn’t change. We were just a couple of gypsies, heading out wherever the wind would blow us. I remember one night we had ended up in Amherst, NS, low on gas, no credit cards and almost out of money. We spent over two hours, traveling through back woods in the dark to make it to Truro and find an open bank machine so we could withdraw our last $5 and get back home. (Again, late 80’s, cheap gas and we had a 1981 Pontiac Acadian. We drove all week on that $5, lol.)
Our second wedding anniversary, we went out for dinner at a local restaurant, didn’t feel like going home, and ended up in Halifax before the night was over.
We took the kids for a Sunday drive and ended up at the end of the Confederation Bridge because none of us had seen it yet. We took the obligatory family snapshots with the bridge in the background, and loaded back into the minivan. But instead of turning left to start home, Michael turns right. “No point in getting this close and not seeing what the view is like,” he said.
We ended up in Charlottetown for supper, where he asked me what I thought of the bridge. I said it was frustrating because the rails were so high, there really wasn’t much of a view, and that I missed the ferry. “No prob,” he said, and the next thing I know, we’re at the terminal in Wood Islands. It was the kids’ first time on the boat, and they loved it. We were late getting home, but the kids still talk about that ferry ride.
Not too long ago, we started out early one Saturday morning with the intention of going to the Farmer’s Market in Fredericton. We were done with the Market by lunchtime, and decided to keep going and see where we ended up. That evening, we pulled into my aunt’s place in Acton, ME, almost 600km from the Market. Thank goodness I keep our passports in my purse.
And we still have the best conversations, stories, laughs, and yes, even arguments while we’re driving. It’s one of the times I feel the closest to him. It really doesn’t matter where we’re going, as long as we’re going. We both get antsy if we spend too much time at home. Usually all it takes to get the ball rolling is the question “You got itchy feet?” and we’re in the car or on the bike and heading out.
Sometimes we have a destination, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we don’t end up anywhere near we had originally intended. But it’s all OK. Some of our best trips have been the ones that weren’t planned.
And if you have an open heart, an open mind and the open road, who could ask for more than that?
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