It had been a while since I traveled down the road, and I was surprised how much and how little things had changed.
It was Monday morning, and I was on the way to Wichita, Kansas, to spend a couple of days with my aunt and uncle.
There was a time when I was much younger and much singler (probably not a word, so I didn’t look it up) when I made the trip to Wichita from Pittsburg just about every weekend.
I was working at a radio station, and when I finished my shift on Saturday afternoon I would hop into my car and drive to Wichita to visit a girl I knew.
I didn’t think too far ahead in those days. I think when you’re young and single, you don’t tend to make many plans. At least I didn’t.
In those days, when I would start that drive to Wichita the only thing I knew is that I had to be back at the radio station by 4 p.m. on Monday.
That’s it. That was as far ahead as I planned.
When I was much, much younger, my family lived for a while in Fredonia, Kansas. My dad, who was in the U.S. Army, left in September for Okinawa, Japan, and we were to join him there after the first of the year.
Every few weeks, my mom would pack my brothers and sisters into our station wagon and drive us to Wichita via that same road that I would later drive to visit my girlfriend and that I was driving on Monday morning.
When my mom would take us to Wichita, we would have to stop at the hospital at the U.S. Air Force base and get the necessary shots for our trip to Okinawa.
Have you ever ridden in a station wagon with brothers and sisters knowing that in a few hours you were going to get a series of painful shots?
Don’t. It’s not as fun as it sounds.
I didn’t think too far ahead when I made those trips to Wichita with my family, either. Sure, I knew that in a few months I would leave my new friends and move to Okinawa, but I didn’t think about that much.
Even though I was only 9 years old, I was already used to moving; I was used to saying goodbye to friends and then making new friends.
You learn to go with the flow when you move a lot.
As I got older, I knew people my age who did think ahead. I knew people my age who made plans about serious things — things such as careers, marriage and kids.
My plans tended to be more in the moment:
“Let’s see. We’re going to be at the lake for five hours, and that means I need to get a case of beer and not just a 12-pack.”
You know, important plans.
Then, I got married and we had a daughter, and without even realizing it, I found myself making more serious and more long-term plans.
That sort of things tends to happen when you get married and have children.
And that’s not a bad thing. When you’re married and have kids, you have to make plans, or life will run right over you.
Have you ever had life run right over you?
I haven’t either, but it doesn’t sound fun.
But now Emma, our daughter, is 21 and currently studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. My wife and I don’t have to make plans the way we used to, so I’m thinking about getting back into the moment.
Instead of planning so much, I think I’ll concentrate on experiencing.
When I finish this column, I don’t have any idea what I will do next.
And I think that’s great.