We’d driven up north to Tobermory, a town at the tip of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, for an extended weekend getaway. It’s four hours away from Toronto, which led me to realize that I am a big fan of trains and planes, but not automobiles. Not for long distance travel, anyway.
I like to distract myself when I travel – a good book, maybe a couple episodes of a good show, a nap. Not this time around. As designated navigator (navigatrix?) for this particular road trip, staying awake and focused for the whole trip was an occupational hazard.
Things can go south pretty quickly when you’re in the middle of Ontario farmland and there are pockets of dead space. No phone signal? Quelle horreur! Not too horreur, of course. I smugly congratulated myself for growing up analog and having the foresight to download a map of the area before starting out. Who needs step-by-step directions in real-time? Over-dependence on tech makes people pansies.
Or so I thought.
Yes, it happened. We took the wrong route on the way home. I can’t in all honesty say “lost,” because Ontario’s roads are like a grid that would make an obsessive-compulsive smile and if there’s enough gas in the tank, you’ll eventually drive long enough to hit a major highway. A wrong route means we used a side road, which isn’t paved the same way as a highways. They’re mostly semi loose gravel, which makes a rumbly sort of noise as you drive.
So there we were, cutting through a side road in the middle of somewhere with acres and acres of pasture, livestock, farms and absolutely no one else in sight.
I have a weird reaction to solitude. Being around too many people can make me feel hemmed in and claustrophobic. Too much solitude makes me uneasy, because I like to think about what-ifs. I’m the Goldilocks of solitude. I need to get it just right.
Faced with nothing but grass, cows, and the omnipresent rumble of gravel, I ended up worrying about ruining the rental’s undercarriage and hoping the car wouldn’t break down in the middle of all the nothingness because neither Le Hubs or I know how to fix a car. There were zero bars on our mobiles so an emergency call would be out. We’d probably end up trudging through fields to get to the nearest farmhouse and with my luck, end up at a farmhouse owned by Leatherface and his family of cannibals. (I have no idea why I always go for scenarios involving death and dismemberment, but that seems to be where my mind is at when it comes to staying alive.)
I like people about me, milling around. I’m used to noise, to the buzz, to roosters crowing before daybreak, dogs howling at the moon, the neighbours having yet another knock-down, drag-out fight over nothing, to babies squalling, to doors being slammed and motorcycles being revved.
We may be busy going about our lives, not exactly connecting with each other every moment of every day, but it’s reassuring to know there’s people about. There may be discomfort in too many numbers, but there certainly is comfort in numbers. It’s the way a person sometimes turns on the TV just to have something moving in the background. It’s a unique sort of hum, the comfort of white noise.