I wasn’t looking forward to the 496-mile drive home from Michigan, so I decided to take the long way and add 90 miles.
I had my reasons, including avoiding border crossings in and out of Canada that can sometimes mean sitting in a long line of cars for a half hour.
But what I really wanted to do was to make the solo trip more enjoyable, less stressful. There was no rush to get home, and what did it matter if it took me 9 1/2 hours instead of 8 1/2?
It’s part of my new approach of trying to slow down and enjoy, rather than endure, even the most mundane activities.
I’m glad I went the long way. Those extra 90 miles, rather than looming as an added burden, were an opportunity to get some good mental and emotional work done.
The start was rather gloomy with a steady drizzle, minor construction and the signs for the city of Flint, which of course now is synonymous with America’s failure to provide safe drinking water to its children.
But the skies cleared, and Ohio arrived with signs for towns I associate with my old college friends from Ohio State — Perrysburg, Maumee, Geneva, Willoughby, Ashtabula. I shared an important part of my life with people from those places, and the memories came flooding back.
Nostalgia led me to listen to a CD by the ’70s rock group Boston, which I always associate with the college years. (I saw them in concert — for $3 — at the Agora theater in Columbus in 1977.)
The drive through downtown Cleveland on I-90 took me past Progressive Field, the home of the long downtrodden Cleveland Indians. That, of course, led me to another CD in my collection — a live recording of “The Green Fields of the Mind,” a classic essay on baseball by the late former commissioner, Bart Giamatti.
Yes, the game breaks your heart (it’s meant to) and it brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it, but it does wonders for the soul. Baseball fan or not, give it a listen.
Giamatti acknowledges the superiority of baseball on the radio vs. television, so after I listened to his essay a couple of times, I turned on the radio to try to find a ballgame.
Sure enough, I found the Washington Nationals’ broadcast just in time to hear aging slugger Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run against the Detroit Tigers. The signal didn’t last long, as crackling static took over.
That sound, normally so annoying, was actually a comfort. It took me back to my youth and my early love of baseball in the pre-cable era when there was only one televised game on Saturday afternoon.
Listening to games on the radio before going to sleep at night was heaven to an 11-year-old baseball nut. (My dad and my mom both loved baseball, so staying up late to listen to games was allowed). And it was a bonus if the play-by-play announcer kept quiet often enough so you could hear the crowd, the peanut vendors and other sounds of the game.
Now there’s just too much talking, too much noise . . . and I don’t just mean during baseball broadcasts, of course. Unwelcome, grating static is everywhere.
I crossed into New York, the home stretch. For most of the last three hours, until I pulled into my driveway in the dark, I kept it quiet, with nothing to listen to except my own thoughts.