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Drive

Yesterday was full of driving. I did take my daughter to pick up the laptop, and used the occasion to pick up some of her stuff for home, and stopped by my son's college to pick up some of his stuff, too. Both colleges are getting out at the same time, both kids need to be out of their dorms at nearly the same time, so only one car and one carload's worth of stuff can be in the final trip.

It was a long day of driving. As I pulled over for the final exit off the highway towards home, I saw a bare-rooted bush in the breakdown lane, as if fallen from a landscaper's truck. On impulse (because impulses are precious after a day of dutiful parenting), I went back on the road and around again and stopped to see if it was salvageable. It was a rougher specimen than it had looked in the first pass, taller than I am, and too unwieldy for the car. There was a smashed bird on the ground near it. I pushed the bush over the guardrail away from the road. I left the bird as it was.

It was not a useless stop. The traffic was lighter by then but still lots of traffic, and the cars were coming by at maybe 70 mph in swooshing barely-broken streams that felt so close, so dangerous, and, yes, I've seen the recurrent stories of people hit when stopped in breakdown lanes. A quick eye, a quick rush needed to get out of the car, to get back in the car, to get the car moving again and off at the exit, and I survived it. And despite all the previous hours of driving I was wide awake, heart racing, and, frankly, smiling. It was a silly thing to do. It was an exhilarating thing to do.