Far, far away: When the mind wanders …

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 15, 2011

How long I had been sitting at the stop sign, waiting for it to change so I could continue on my way, I don’t know.

It’s a proven fact that the shortest length of time is between the time the traffic light turns green and the car horn behind you blows.

So, why not one of the 11 car horns behind me blew, I don’t know. Maybe that adage doesn’t apply to stop signs.

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But, when I realized that I was sitting at an all-way stop sign, not a traffic light, I shot off like a bullet, hoping it was my turn to go.

I pulled into a parking place on the square and, as I sat there trying to get my thoughts back together, someone knocked on the window.

It was my surrogate daughter, Holli Keaton.

“Mama, what were you doing just sitting there?”

You can’t do anything in a small town and get away with it.

“I was just off somewhere else.” And, that’s kind of a scary thing.

But it’s something that I can do extremely well. I can be one place physically and far, far away in the gray matter.

I learned to do that when my children turned into teenagers and perfected it during committee meetings.

But, the scariest time that my mind took leave of my body was coming from Roswell, Ga. The storytelling festival wasn’t over until about 10 p.m., which was 9 o’clock “our time.”

There were several of us “girls” along and, of course, eating is a requirement. So, it was rather late when we started home. Because I’m somewhat of a night owl, I had no reservations about late-night driving.

We all talked and laughed for a while and then, one by one, the girls began to nap.

Before long, it was just me and the sound of the tires on the road. I turned on the radio much to the dismay of my passengers.

“Don’t play that ol’ hillbilly music,” one of them moaned.

“They’re ballads, story songs,” I said.

“Turn it off!”

There’s an eerie silence that fills a car when you are the only one awake on a dark, lonely road. So, I found company inside my head and, for about a hundred miles, I was well entertained.

But just on this side of Union Springs, I began to get a little sleepy. My eyes got heavier and I nudged my co-pilot. “Wanna drive?”

She didn’t.

I adjusted the rearview mirror and turned on the inside light. No one stirred.

I turned on the radio and no one resisted.

Dead to the world, that’s what they were. I was the only one in any shape to drive.

Around Blues Old Stand, I thought that I was going to have to stop and wake one of the sleeping beauties.

My next awareness was of the sign that read, Monticello.

Monticello? I put on brakes and stopped in the middle of the road. How on earth did I get to Monticello?

I had absolutely no memory of anything after Blues Old Stand until I saw that road sign. I felt the blood drain out of my body.

Had I driven all that distance in my sleep? Had I been sleep driving?

The girls stirred. “Where are we?”

“The Twilight Zone.”


They went right back to sleep. I said a prayer of thanks and drove wide-eyed the rest of the way home.

Jaine Treadwell is features editor of The Messenger. She can be reached via email at jaine.treadwell@troymessenger.com.