Night Driving

YH Highlands Ranch

This week, I went to see the Yarn Harlot when she stopped in Denver for her book tour.  The fact that I went pleasantly surprised me.  Not that I don’t like the Yarn Harlot. I do.  I have all of her books and follow her blog religiously. When she came out to Conifer, I was there for her talk and found it enjoyable and informative.  So, why the reluctance this go-round?

This week’s event involved me being somewhere at night, in general, and me driving at night, specifically.  To attend, I’d have to drive 45 minutes each way, and coming home, there’d be no avoiding driving in the dark at highway speeds.   The talk was scheduled for a Monday night, at 7:30, no less.  I’d have to drive home at night, and I’d be up late.  Tuesdays are always rough at work even when times are good, and being sleep-deprived wouldn’t help matters.  Oh, and Mondays are Scout nights for us, so they’re extra-busy.  Plus, the thought of anyone writing in one of my books — even the author — doesn’t do anything for me.  I had lots of excuses to not go.

So, when my friend Stephanie emailed me to tell me that the Yarn Harlot was coming, and would be at a bookstore near her house, and asked if I would join her, I cringed.  My biggest anxiety trigger was the prospect of driving at night.

That I even hesitated on these grounds would surprise anyone who knew me in my grad school and law school days. I earned both degrees going to school at night and working during the day. Lots of having to be awake, alert, and social well into the evenings. Lots of night driving on little sleep.

These days?  Now my goal is to have my pajamas on by 7:30, not be at a book signing way across town.  Although I can drive at night — I don’t have a restricted license — I don’t like it.  My eyes and my body were 20 years younger back when I was degree-collecting.  It’s true that I drive in the almost-light of an early winter morning, and the not-quite-dark of a winter evening, all relatively close to home, but being out past my bedtime-type late? I was going to have to give this some thought.

If I came back to Stephanie with a no thanks, how would that look? No thanks, I don’t drive at night. No thanks, I’d be up past my bedtime.  Was I so hidebound by routine that I couldn’t stay up an extra hour or so?  And what exactly was my issue with night driving?  I might not like it, but I’m a good driver, regardless of the time of day.

I emailed Stephanie back to say OK, that I’d be there, and tried to sound more enthusiastic than I was.  Truthfully, I kind of hoped something would happen so I didn’t have to go.  Like a snowstorm.  Or a virus.  Not a bad one, of course, but something to provide an excuse other than I’m a ween about night driving. 

Then, the appointed day came. Stephanie’s daughter came down with a mild virus, and I wondered if she’d call it off.   Not a chance, she texted me. She was looking forward to this, and her dad would watch her daughter for the few hours we’d be at the bookstore.  I dutifully got in my car and made the trek down before rush hour had reached full throttle. I checked with the bookstore people to find out the logistics for the evening.  A few diehards were already there, hours ahead of time, knitting away.  I had time for a quick dinner before I had to queue up.

I walked outside the bookstore to a nearby restaurant.  I surveyed the traffic.  I was definitely stuck now.  No way was I going to chicken out and head home in rush hour traffic, and by the time rush hour died down, it would be dark.  I was committed.  As I walked to the restaurant, I thought about how I made it through so many years of night school.  The answer?  Caffeine.  Although it would have been nice to have a beer with dinner, I opted for Arnold Palmers.  I might not like being out and about late at night, but at least I could be wired for it.

When I returned to the bookstore from dinner, the queue was nearly 50 people long almost an hour before tickets would be handed out.  Stephanie joined me.  As we lined up to get tickets, I looked out the window.  It was almost dark.  I tried to not think about the drive home.  I bought some full-octane iced tea, just to keep the caffeine in my system.

As I expected, the Yarn Harlot had an entertaining talk, so it was totally worth the fretting.  She talked about the writing and publishing process, and the grueling nature of book tours.  Then, she read one of her essays.   Her talk was about an hour long, and was engaging from start to finish.  She almost managed to take my mind off of the long, dark drive home.

It was time to line up again to have our books signed.  I debated leaving at that point.  It was definitely, undeniably dark.  Plus, I don’t hold any special affectation for having anybody write in my books. 

I was on a field trip once in elementary school when our group happened upon a semi-famous person, whom I didn’t know, but had our chaperone fangirling all over her.  Our chaperone approached the person and asked if she’d provide autographs for us.  The famous person agreed, and the chaperone, acting as if she’d just scored us the coup of the century, had us line up.  When my turn came, the famous person grabbed my field trip brochure and scribbled on it, handing it back to me like she’d done me some huge favor, like it was the best Christmas present ever.  I was perplexed.  Some stranger had just written all over my nice, clean brochure!  To this day, that’s still how I feel about autographs.  I can hardly bear the thought of anyone writing in my books, for any reason (I am the child of a librarian, so I’ll blame it on that).   I didn’t stay for book signing in Conifer, and I considered not staying this time, but Stephanie wanted to, and it wasn’t going to get lighter until morning, and we were having a nice time chatting, so I did. 

Once we had our nice new books written in (and I tried to act like this was perfectly OK with me), we were on our way.  I got in my car, took a deep breath, and turned on my driving lights in addition to my headlights.  I listened to the directions from my iPhone and managed to find the correct  lanes to get back on the highway that would take me on my uneventful drive home.  





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