highway to hell

This weekend we are going to spend a few days at Seabrook on the Washington coast, with the Professors. It’s a super cute little planned community with houses that look like they belong in Nantucket.

It’s about three hours away and I am looking forward to some ocean air and down time. Except for one thing.

I have to drive. On the highway.

I HATE driving on the freeway. I don’t even like to BE on the freeway. In my everyday life, it’s not so much an issue – I commute by bus, and living in the city means you can pretty much get anywhere by surface streets.

I don’t mind the actual driving, and I am not a bad driver. Unless The Geek is in the passenger seat – that makes me nervous.

But the freeway. Too many tons of metal going way too fast, operated by people too busy texting or talking to pay attention to the road.

It wasn’t always like this. Over college breaks, I drove from Kent to work at Bellevue Square. I can remember driving to downtown Seattle one time, too. But somewhere along the way, it became scary. A few years out of college, I made plans to drive to central Oregon to visit family. I made sure I left really early so I could avoid traffic, but it was still nerve-wracking. I’ve driven to IKEA a few times, a route with some crazy merges. One time a rain squall came through followed by blinding sunlight. By all rights, I should have hit something on the exit ramp – I could not see a thing.

The merging, especially, is stressful. I will scope out on-ramps that shoot you onto your own lane if possible. But that pales next to the I-90 tunnel. The few times I’ve had to drive that, I held my breath the whole time. And it’s not a short tunnel. It is very narrow – the margin for error is very small.

It occurred to me as the departure date approached that maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way. And lo and behold, it’s a thing! Freeway phobia! Lots of people have this problem too! Have to say that made me feel a bit better – that I’m not the only loser whose adrenaline kicks when the speedometer goes over 40 and you’re 4 feet away from big metal boxes.

I read some tips about writing down affirmations, getting hypnotized, hiring a coach. But what seems to be most effective is just doing it – getting on the road and facing your fears. No, I can’t control anyone else on the road. BUT I also can’t control anyone else on the bus or in line at Starbucks.

So Friday morning, I will load up my family and head south on I-5 at 60 mph. I will breathe slowly and deeply. I will make a playlist. I will load the directions on my phone. I will try to have faith that I can do this. (Maybe you could keep your fingers crossed, too? Every little bit helps.)

At least I don’t have go east through the I-90 tunnel. A girl has her limits. One thing at a time.

I hope the traffic looks like this.

I hope the traffic looks like this.

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