The sad state of a car sick reader


Nine hours to. Nine hours from.

I thought I’d prepared myself for the journey. Spencer and I were up and back to Western New York over Labor Day weekend — two and a half days of fun before back to the grind on Tuesday. Since I depleted all of my vacation time going to England and whatnot, we couldn’t get on the road until after work on Friday . . . and that had us parking at Spencer’s parents’ home around 1 a.m. Saturday.

We had a wonderful time with Spence’s family. It’s always so relaxing in New York — far from the hustle and bustle of the D.C. area and the myriad of obligations that plague me at home. Though the trip back is really going “home” to Spencer, it just feels like an extended vacation to me. No worries. Nothing to fuss about or fret over. Just time to hang out and be.

And that? That’s awesome. And fun.

But what’s not so fun?

Getting there.

We looked into flights to Buffalo weeks ago and found the fares to be . . . well, a bit cost prohibitive. Since it was a holiday weekend, Southwest milked the end of summer for all it was worth — and poor, weary travelers like us couldn’t pony up that kind of dough for a three-day stay. So we threw our stuff in the backseat and sailed away in Spencer’s car, though D.C.-area traffic doesn’t really let anyone “sail” anywhere.

It was a mess.

Being a seasoned traveler, I knew enough to bring a “stuff bag” to sit in the front seat with me. You know how your parents would pack a bag full of crayons, coloring books, games and puzzles for those long road trips? Or, you know, if you’re of a more recent generation, maybe an electronic device with movies or video games and such?

I still do that. Except now it’s full of books, candy and magazines.

But here’s the thing I can never remember — and the thing that aggravates me more than anything else: I cannot read in the car. It makes me queasy and anxious and sick. Sometimes I can peruse a few pages before I feel that dull headache building at the base of my skull, and by that point I’m kicking myself for bringing on a dreaded case of car sickness. And I usually feel bad for the rest of the journey.

It makes me insane. Here I am with hours upon hours stretching before me, all crisp and fresh and new. Spencer’s iPod created the soundtrack to our trip; we crawled along I-270 to the tunes of The Beatles, Rammstein, Ben Folds and whoever else popped up on shuffle mode. It was ample time to chat about life, get reconnected and think.

It was also ample time to read. But that’s never to be.

The drive back last night was killer. Poor Spence was responsible for getting us home unscathed in driving rain from New York to Maryland. The ground is so saturated from recent storms that tree limbs dangle precariously close to the road. As we finally hit the Beltway after a long, slow drive through Pennsylvania, the roads in Virginia had no reflective markers to let you know where the lanes actually were. It was dark and stormy and scary. And after already cruising for eight hours in similar conditions, all we wanted was to be out on solid ground.

Reading wouldn’t have helped that. But maybe it would have made me calm down.

Can you read in moving vehicles, or are you also doomed to a life of car sickness? I’m good on airplanes, boats and things of that nature. But cars? Forget it. (Though I can’t — and keep trying.)