We had dinner with friends last night and learned more about their upcoming trips. As they described their plans, I felt pangs of jealousy. I want to go on road trips and visit friends and family. I want to drive the back roads from Arkansas to California. I want to make my way from Arkansas through Texas to New Mexico and then loop north through Colorado and Nebraska into Iowa and Illinois and Indiana, aiming toward Ohio. I want to meander along the full length of the Natchez Trace Parkway. I want to wander through the Pacific Northwest and Canada and the southeastern U.S. I want to see this country in which I live.
It occurred to me after dinner—when my wife mentioned that our dinner friends had signed up for our church’s “dinners for six” and that they would be traveling during the months those events would take place—that my wife is coordinating those church dinners and, therefore, we have obligations that preclude my wished-for road trips. We’ve lived in Hot Springs Village for four and a half years and have taken but a very few road trips. We spoke of taking many, many of them once we’d settled into our new home. I guess obligations get in the way. But obligations shouldn’t rob one of one’s dreams. But that’s what they’re doing. I’m so damn tempted to abandon the commitments we’ve made and just go.
I can’t even think of doing that, though, until my brother is back on his feet and no longer needs my help. And, of course, winter isn’t the time to travel outside the south. So the possibility will have to wait until spring, when other obligations will preclude us from doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long. I’m angry at myself for failing to insist that we—or at least I—just commit to doing what we’ve talked about for so long, obligations be damned. But I won’t. I never do. The reasons to delay or defer or demur or whatever prevents us from doing what I want to do will always be sufficiently greater than the reasons for going. The price of the freedom to roam apparently is too great an expense to incur.