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Sharon Randall: Roads of life and marriage

Writer

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove, CA 93950 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

It’s a strange thing, an act of foolishness or faith, to put your life in someone else’s hands.

We were heading south on a freeway in heavy traffic in a downpour that made the three-hour drive feel like three days.

We had driven north the day before to visit my husband’s son and his family in Sonoma. But the roads then were dry. What a difference a day can make.

My husband was driving. His hands gripped the wheel, his eyes were glued to the road.

I sat beside him, reclining in the passenger seat, pretending I was not the least concerned that at any moment, I might die.

My husband is an excellent driver. I trust him completely. His driving never scares me.

Well, hardly ever. If it does, it’s rarely his fault. Often, it’s because another driver cut in front of us without warning, forcing my husband to stomp on the brakes and dousing me with a cup of coffee I’d dared to sip.

Usually, if I’m bothered by his driving, it’s simply because of my own lack of control. He’s making life-or-death decisions, setting the speed, taking curves, judging distance, hitting the brakes for both of us. And me? I’m just along for the ride.

For the record, let me assure you that I, too, am an excellent driver. You can ask anyone who has never seen me do it.

I learned to drive when I was 8 years old, sitting in my dad’s lap, with his right hand hovering  over mine and his left hand dangling a cigarette out the window. I got my license at 14 (yes, it was legal back then) and I’ve been driving ever since.

Never mind how long. Long enough. I like to drive. I don’t smoke, but sometimes I hang my hand out the window and sing off-key like my dad.

I will gladly drive any place, any time. But when we travel together, I make my husband take the wheel. Why? Because if I drive, he can’t resist telling me how to do it. And then I can’t resist getting hopping mad and driving like my hair is on fire.

Sitting in the driver’s seat gives the driver the illusion of being in control of the vehicle, the highway, all other drivers and even life itself.

Sitting in the passenger’s seat gives the passenger a chance to sit back and pray like there’s no tomorrow. That’s what I do. We all have our gifts. That’s mine.

Also, I play FreeCell on my laptop. It’s a good distraction. But if the glare from the screen is blinding my husband, I’ll shut it off and go back to praying.

Fifty miles from home, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun beamed down on hills that, barely a month ago, were brown. Now, thanks to a few blessed weeks of rain, they were emerald green.

I wish you could see them.

Just when we think winter will never end, life comes back.

An hour later, we rounded a bend and saw Monterey Bay, blue as the sky and rimmed with foam, welcoming us home.

Marriage is a lot like a road trip. Somedays it’s smooth sailing. But at times, it can get white-knuckled, hopping-mad, hair-on-fire bumpy. And yet, no matter who’s driving, you’re on the same road together. So you might as well take it as it comes and try to make the best of it.

Snacks help. Music, too, especially songs you both like and can sing off-key together.

But the best thing about road trips and marriage is this: You have someone to share the journey, to trust with your life, a traveling companion to tap on the arm and say, “Look at that!”

Here, free of charge, are a few tips from someone who’s been married almost as long as she’s been driving: Keep moving in the right direction. Know when to talk and when to shut up. Never argue over needing a pit stop. Pray like there’s no tomorrow. And try your best, come what may, to enjoy the ride. At the end of the road, you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s to happy trails.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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