My husband and I took a road trip last weekend. We travel very well together. He drives and I ride, and that’s fine with me. However, our road trips tend to be quite … quiet. I would prefer a little more conversation to fill the hours and hours of silence, but he’s just not the talkative type.
His silence is not new to me. On our first date, we took a short tour around the North Texas countryside. We had an awesome dinner together, talking and getting to know each other, and weren’t quite ready for the evening to end. So we jumped in his Chrysler 300 and headed out of Burleson, winding aimlessly around the country roads.
He drove effortlessly, his hand resting comfortably on my leg. But his silence unnerved me. I filled the dead air with mindless chatter, asking inane questions and recounting stories from my past. It’s a wonder he wanted to see me again, after all the useless and potentially detrimental information I gave him about myself that night.
But he did. Now here we are, two years later, taking more silent road trips together.
As we drove through Texas last weekend, my mind had plenty of time to wander. The quiet drive reminded me of another road trip I took back in 2005, when my second daughter, T, and I took off on a cross-country adventure. In November that year, we held a garage sale and sold what we could of our belongings. What we couldn’t sell, we packed in the car with our little dog Easy. What we couldn’t fit in the car, we put in storage.
Then we headed west, to my oldest daughter’s home in San Diego. We spent several weeks there, and then decided to drive to Miami. T’s father, an insurance adjuster, was storm trooping for hurricane damage, and she and I had a lot of time on our hands. Our 24-hour nonstop drive from Texas to Miami was one for the record books and one I don’t want to repeat. But Miami Beach, where we lived for the next three months, was a different kind of “trip.” I’d love to go back someday.
Over the next few months, we left Miami, drove to Colorado, back to Texas, flew to Germany to meet my new grandson, flew back to Texas, then moved our belongings from Texas to Colorado. I never calculated the number of miles T and I covered together, but I know the hours were endless. And many of those hours were spent in silence, neither of us talking.
When we started our trip, we didn’t know a lot about each other. As her mother, I understood T, the child, but T, the woman, was a mystery. She felt the same about me, knowing me only as her mother and not as a contemporary. But by the end of the trip, we were best friends. We ended up having plenty of conversations among all that silence, enough to learn that despite our differences we are really quite the same.
So while I would like a little more conversation on road trips, my husband’s non-talkative nature doesn’t bother me much. I’m pretty good at talking to myself, commenting on the passing landscape or whatever random thoughts pop into my head.
Unless I ask a direct question, I usually don’t expect a verbal response from him. When I say something like, “The tan line on my legs looks weird,” or “My first-grade teacher had really red hair,” he’ll glance at me with a wry grin before turning his attention back to the road.
And that’s fine with me, because sometimes just spending time together, even in silence, is enough.
Contact Kristi Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7548