I drove six children and my husband through the night to The Alps in a left hand drive mini bus.
It was a mission I wasn’t looking forward to, I have taken this journey many times in the last 8 years so a map wasn’t necessary... Which’ meant the task was relatively fuss free, but I was dreading the solitary endeavor ahead of me.
After the first two hours of my husband teaching me how to suck eggs, bickering from the children and arguments over who’s pod should be plugged in, everyone gradually began to drop off into deep slumber. There is something incredibly satisfying about driving such a precious cargo through the middle of a large country and they all feel content and secure enough to fall asleep while in your hands.
My carefully planned playlists filled the car with a pleasant atmosphere and drowned out the sound of the children's soft snoring. Once my shoulders eased and my fists relaxed I began to reflect on my life and the past few months of chaos. A major MA hand-in and the usual family politics during this heady Christmas period had drained me of all creative stimulus. I now needed something to engulf my artistic exploration and help me return to an inventive condition...
7 hours in and my only conversations were with the two night workers at the petrol stations in Reims and Lille ... I decided not to adjourn in a hotel and to continue through the night... I was enjoying being forced to reflect and iron-out the senseless worries that we all collect and store within our brains. I feel we all need this, too often we are ahead within our heads or looking back regretting or reminiscing but I now had the luxury of being able to start and finish a thought which I am rarely able to do in every day life.
9 hours in and I now reached the foot of The Alps. The summits loomed over our little bus and I considered waking my husband to take over the sharp snowy turns but after all my hours of self affirming meditation, I bit my lip and decided to tackle the meandering mountains myself... after all, I can surely suck this egg ?!? ...
Gradually the children woke and I could see them wide eyed viewing the headlight scouring the rocks and drops at the side of road. Driving each turn I tried to maintain a cautious speed and carefully avoid the fallen boulders and ice, with each mile I was feeling triumphant and knew that conquering this massif was more than just getting the family to their destination. The final bends were the hardest, steep, slippery and the most intimidating of drops ... But I did it ... We arrived on the Col Du Corbier Mountain Pass, safe and secure at 5-am ... A round of applause was given and I glowed with pride and a clear head.
I learnt a few things from this mammoth Boxing day drive.
#1 9 hours gives me enough time to think of a great new artistic project
#2 I know more words than I thought of The Rolling Stones
#3 If you throw chewing gum out of the window while driving it can blow back in and get caught in your hair.
#4 I need to think more in the now and less in the past or future