off to boston

Alas, another drive to Boston. We take the dreaded trip five times a year, once to see Calvin’s neuro-ophthalmologist and quarterly to see his neurologist.

Today, as usual, we woke up early and rushed to do it all. Sometimes we have enough time to feed Calvin at home, but if the appointment is early we give him his breakfast and medications on the road. But before we leave we rush to drink our coffee, eat our cereal, take showers—or not—brush our teeth, brush Calvin’s teeth, change his diaper, get dressed, get Calvin dressed, pack his medications and lunch, plus a spoon, bib, washcloth, toothbrush, toothpaste, several kerchiefs, extra diapers, an extra set of clothing—in case he soils what he is wearing—thermometer, acetaminophen suppositories, a toy or two, a book or two, his peanut snack and plenty of water.

Michael loads the stroller into the back of the car and makes another batch of hot coffee for the thermos. I strap Calvin in, we say goodbye to Rudy the dog, and we’re off. At some point during the trip, most reliably the first part, Calvin screams his head off. Michael and I can’t hear the radio or have a conversation—his shrieks are so loud. I feel my blood start to boil and I think I am going to pop. Eventually, though, Calvin works up a burp or two and he’s usually quieter after that.

We dart and weave through traffic on the rutted roads. Folks rubberneck at us as we sail down the highway. Inevitably, I see one or two people, their fingers dangling out open windows, nonchalantly release their cigarette butts into the wind. I’ve seen people text, put on mascara, read the paper, read books and rummage through bags on the floor of their passenger seat. Michael drives on cruise control maintaining an even 70 miles per hour, however, the rest of the world doesn’t, so he must irksomely swerve and break for merging cars and slowpokes in the fast lane.

The journey on the Maine highway is mostly beautiful, save for the infinite stretches of cracked, seamed, striped pavement. There are no billboards, only a few guardrails, traffic signs and mile-markers between the cars and banks of lush rolling green, impressive bluffs of beautiful ragged granite, stately pines, firs, spruce, oak, and mountain ash.

Now, the ferns are dying, their orange feathered stems massed beyond the shoulder. Tall thin stalks of rotted cattails spring up from soggy troughs. A couple of times I’ve spotted a moose grazing in the shadows at the forest’s edge in winter. In fall, it’s miles and miles of deep emeralds, acid yellows, gnarly silver trunks, slender peeling white birch and clumps of copper pine needles and rose colored sugar maples.

Once we make it through the thin strip of New Hampshire into Massachusetts the scene begins to change, and by the time we hit Route 1 we are bombarded with billboards, cyclone fences, rows of fast food stops and dense, speeding, erratic traffic. The scene is grey, grim, almost shocking.

And then, after two hours in the doctor’s office meeting with her and her dietician and drawing Calvin's blood, we turn right round and do it again, only backwards. But the goal now is home, and with that in mind it’s somehow more bearable—even exciting.
photo by Michael Kolster

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