The Drive Home

Back to work on Friday. Boooo. However, since I didn’t have an event on Friday night (which is an increasing rarity as we get closer to summer) I’d already promised to go down to Hamilton and see a friend this evening.

Work, home, changed, long drive, dinner party, long drive, home. I’m exhausted, and Saturday will bring wedding clients. Yay.

Yet there’s something to be said for driving the highway late at night, when the roads are open, empty and dark. It brings back memories of so many gigs – the 2-hour drive home after a long day. The air-con on cold. The radio on full blast for singalongs. The muscles in my back gradually turning me into a piece of wood. The eerie yellow glow of the highway floodlights in the inky blackness. Like the rest of the world isn’t even there.

Sometimes I’ll just find a truck and tag along behind it. It means you don’t have to think as much. Just keep a steady distance and a steady speed.

Other times I will relish the space to set my own pace. Yet I’m inevitably slower when there is no one around to pass. I don’t really know why.

In the darkness, I thought I saw something move just above my eye-line. But then I figured it was just a trick of the light and shadows as I passed by. I ignored it until I saw it again and looked up.

It was a cockroach. As big as my thumb and wandering nonchalantly back and forth across the edge of my sun visor. Suddenly it became much more important to find a rest stop and get off the highway. “Don’t fall on me. Please don’t fall on me. I have to drive.”

I don’t really know why a cockroach had decided to get into the car with me. It was a type known in New Zealand as a Gisborne Cockroach – even though they’re originally an import from Australia. Fortunately they don’t fly, but they get pretty big.

The logical part of my brain knows that they’re harmless. Despite the reputation of cockroaches, these ones mostly eat decaying wood. So you’ll find a lot of them in your garden if you use bark mulch, or in your firewood pile, or even in older timber houses. They don’t bite or sting, they just look… slippery. Still, there was no decaying wood in my car (that I know of) and the logical part of my brain was tired enough to be giving way to the vestigial lizard brain of “Ew! Get it away from me!”.

Fortunately I came to the gas station at Mercer and pulled off the road. Taking a bit of paper from my purse, I opened the door and flicked the roach out of the car. It can live in Mercer now. But for the rest of the trip I couldn’t stop sensing imaginary roaches crawling across the roof of my car or across my skin.

Sleep. I need to sleep.


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