Though I have experienced many out of my mind events in my life June 3rd provided me with my first out of body. It began around five a.m. as I set off on a solo road trip from Raleigh, North Carolina to Des Moines, Iowa via Memphis Tennessee, a distance of some 1,300 miles or 2,100 km.
It makes no geographical sense to pass through Memphis when traveling from Raleigh to Des Moines and if one chooses this route be aware that it adds an additional 200 miles or 320 km to an already long solo drive. In winter some might favor a southerly route to avoid ice and snow but the latitudes between 35 and 41 degrees north in June are as unlikely to be snow driven as the days are long. No, I went through Memphis for the same reason I headed to Des Moines; love of family.
While still winter, I had requested the first week of June off from work for a road trip, though my original intention was not to visit my grandson. Rather, I planned to accompany my goddess to Connecticut where we would aid her niece in watching three of her sister’s teenage children whose usual caregiver was romping in Europe for an extended and well-earned vacation. Time off secured and six weeks to go before our trip north, my beloved said to me, “What if Katie and Kevin needed help with John? You wouldn’t go with me to Connecticut, would you?”
I hesitated momentarily and weighed her words. Would I pass up an opportunity to spend seven days with the goddess, whom I love and worship but see regularly though inadequately, in order to spend four nights and three days with my two-and-a-half year old grandson whom I only see twice a year? Would I give up the pleasure of seven days with my adored and revered wife in exchange for an arduous solo drive and basking in John’s presence for three?
“Yeah,” said I, “I guess I wouldn’t go with you if it meant seeing John. I see him so little and love him so much.”
“I know,” said she without rancor or jealousy. “He is terrific.”
The goddess has many wondrous attributes including having a particularly masculine mind in a flawless female body, said body and mind wonderfully complementing my feminine mindset and failing male form but until the goddess asked me her question I did not know that she possessed the power of prophecy. Lo and behold three weeks before we were to head to Connecticut our daughter-in-law Katie has a tale of woe and is in need of assistance. The goddess looks at me, places a Mona Lisa-esque smile on her lips and with the raise of her right eyebrow I am driving to Des Moines.
How does Memphis play into this and what of my out of body? I have two sisters who live in two different states ten miles from one another fifty miles east of Memphis and these two sisters along with my two brothers who live fifty miles from one another on the Maryland side of D.C. have pilgrimaged to my house in Florida and then in North Carolina for the last four Februaries. Family matters and with family matters one takes the extra three hours to drive in order to spend time with kin. On the return trip I will stop in Louisville, Kentucky and stay with my elder sister’s son and his wondrous wife who will gladly put up with and put me up for the night. Love is a wondrous thing.
“Okay! What about the out of body!?” I hear someone shout through my keyboard. Ah, right!
Long, long ago in a galaxy that we share people used road maps to travel hither and yon, a practice that has become so obscure as to be arcane. Before leaving on my trip my coworker Jack asked how I was getting to Iowa and when I told Jack I was driving solo he lost his eyebrows as they raced to his far receded hairline. “Driving!?” he declared, “Why don’t you fly?”
“I like to drive. And I’ll see my sister in Memphis. Plus I’m bringing some things with me.”
“Memphis? How are you going?” Jack inquired, having spent some time in our country’s midsection.
“However Google tells me,” I reply. “I have two sisters who live just east of Memphis. I’ll see one of them on the way out.”
“Man,” Jack laughed, shaking his head, “you really are crazy, aren’t you?”
I had no rebuttal for Jack’s declaration. I had no rebuttal and I lacked a map as I, like the rest of the world’s Twenty-first Century citizenry, rely on Google maps to get me from hither to yon. I knew Memphis was west, I knew I lived south west of Raleigh and I knew I would go where Google commanded. Or would I?
In the predawn hours of a Raleigh June morn I started my car and told my phone, “Okay, Google, take me to Walnut, Mississippi,” relying on the all seeing, all knowing eyes in the sky and the brains in my phone to navigate my way to what I euphemistically called “Memphis.” It was here that my out of body experience began.
My house is separated from US 1/ US 64 by a scant hundred meters of woodland and a stockade fence, a circumstance that sometimes befuddles my phone’s navigation as it “thinks” I am already on said highway. As my yard lacks a direct entry to this limited access highway Google sometimes gets befuddled as I wind my way from my home to the US 64 on ramp that sits a mere mile from my driveway. I am used to Google’s little triangular icon zooming southwestward as I parallel the highway but the GPS gods usually figure things out fairly quickly and my virtual and actual positions tend to merge as I temporarily put greater distance between me and 64. Usually, yes. Monday, no.
I took the byway of Tryon Road to US 64 and merged onto the highway heading northeast, a route that would connect me to Interstate 40, the road I would follow for most of Monday’s drive. My GPS and actual position would merge and split seemingly at random, my actual position versus my virtual one differing by a thousand meters, and Google maps would command me to take roads that would get me back on I 40 heading west, the road and direction I was already on, convinced that I was flying over creeks and charging through yards, fields and woodlands. Le sigh. Technology.
If I weren’t already messed up in the head this bit of chicanery would surely have driven me over the edge but fortunately my insanity makes me immune from being driven crazy. My GPS ghost and I eventually became one about 90 minutes west of Raleigh and the consarn thing navigated me to Memphis and then Des Moines. I hope to have no out of body driving when I return via Louisville and the shorter, northern passage on Saturday.
That’s the hope, but we’ll see what Google Maps and the GPS satellites have up their sleeves.