Please welcome today’s guest writer, Emily Scott Boersma (’16). Emily is a speech-language pathologist at Holland Public Schools. She hails from Boulder, Colorado and just got married this August. In the time that she should be writing thank you notes for wedding gifts, she watches Netflix, tries to cook, goes on the occasional walk or bike ride in downtown GR, and dreams about driving across the country.
It’s 6:55 on a chilly Thursday morning. Coffee in hand, I relish the heat starting to come through the car heaters as I pull onto the highway. I throw on a podcast but don’t really listen to it. Instead, I watch the road ahead and let thoughts flicker in and out of my mind. Unlike a few weeks ago, there is no hint of orange light peeking into the blackness in my rearview mirror, and I know it will still be dark when I get to work. I don’t mind. I like driving the highway with the truckers and the few other early-morning commuters, watching the highway gradually fill up with cars.
I spend over an hour in the car each day. My commute from Grand Rapids to Holland is forty minutes each way, a total of eighty minutes that most people would declare to be wasted time. For me, it’s the second best part of my day, second only to the bliss of arriving home and collapsing on the couch.
There’s no “am I there yet?” when I’m driving I-196 W in the darkness of an October morning. No, the space between Grand Rapids and Holland shrinks as I simultaneously think about weaving through traffic and the podcast I’m listening to and the annoying sound my car is making and nothing at all. As an introvert with a new job and a new marriage, that time to myself bookending the workday feels like a great exhale, untouched by any responsibilities or expectations.
Airports are the same way. Many people can’t stand the lines, the layovers, the delays. I savor every minute. It’s the best when I’m alone on one of my many trips between Colorado and Grand Rapids. I like to blend into the crowd: the families with sleepy kids, the women incomprehensibly wearing skirts and heels, the fellow twenty-somethings who look like they just returned from a backpacking trip, the melting pot of races and generations and cultures. Maybe it’s the anonymity that I love, the relief of being whoever I want to be for a moment. Or maybe, there’s liberation to being in limbo—for a brief time, I’m nowhere. I’m placeless. I’m just part of the mass of humanity that’s moving from one space to another and back again.
It’s not that I like the journey more than the destination. I wish I did. I’ve never had much patience for the commute, never been one to go on a walk or a hike “just because,” always needed a store or a summit to look ahead to. But maybe, that’s why I need long car rides and airports. I need the in between places where I am torn away from my usual responsibilities and routines.
Of course, no matter how long these drives are, they feel short in retrospect once I walk into the school’s fluorescent lights. Life starts suddenly as the coffee I drank in the car hits my bloodstream and I launch into my day. In the back of my head, though, I look forward to my drive home. Once again, I’ll be able to loosen the grip I have on my life, and simply be in motion.