Regular readers will notice this post is written in a different style to usual. It is also Part One of two. This piece has a darker ending than what I usually finish with. A number of things influenced this post and I wanted to write it despite its different and darker nature.
As a healthy youngster you grab the keys, jump behind the wheel and set off on the miraculous road trip that will be your wonderful life. The only caveat: you have a constant travelling companion – CF. Firmly restrained in a car seat, CF is limited to useless and intermittent wailing and limb thrashing. You turn up the music and determinedly ignore CF.
As you and CF get older and your health declines, CF starts to assert itself and becomes decidedly distracting. Despite your ground rules and stern reprimands CF can now unclip it’s seatbelt, move around the backseat and reach through to the cabin to hand you various unwanted objects or rifle through your handbag for fresh entertainment. Too frequently CF pipes up from the backseat: Are we due an admission yet? Are we? Have you nebulised your TOBI this morning? It’s time for our second physio session – woohoo! Are you sure you’re well enough for camp/your BFF’s sleepover/full-time Uni/overseas travel/your dream job/to have children? Are we due for an admission yet? When will be due an admission? You continue travelling through the totally rockin’ road trip of your life but your eyes now stray to the rear vision mirror, keeping tabs on pesky CF.
When CF hits the teens things really take a turn for the worse. You grapple with grunts, likes, whatevers, IDK’s and emoticons to muddle through what CF may or may not be communicating with you. Given that you are driving at speed along a gently curving and scenic road, the sun shining and the wind in your hair with speakers cranking out your fave tunes and that you’re trying hard not to have a care in the world…. it can be pretty irritating and tricky to simultaneously un-muddle CF’s messages. Sometimes you are forced to pull into a “Stop, Revive, Survive” rest stop and reach out to CF over terrible coffee and a free Kit Kat. With liberal help from the Urban Dictionary, an illicit second Kit Kat and a delicate balance of bribes and threats an understanding is reached. Your road trip continues but CF is now riding shotgun and navigating. Also, you find yourself listening to Justin Bieber.
The event that you thought was years away, decades maybe, hopefully never, actually happens. CF learns to drive. Out of the blue, CF offers to drive for a few hours to give you a break. You acquiesce. You discover it’s actually quite nice to enjoy the scenery rather than watch the road for a while. It feels wonderful to stretch your calves, roll your shoulders, peruse the map and think about where you’d like to stop and have a stroll. You even have a little nap.
When you wake up your neck is stiff and your mouth is dry. The sun has been shining on you and you have sunburn on your arm and the side of your face. There’s a little bit of dried drool on your chin. You suggest a pitt stop but CF says no. A little while later you ask to detour past a place you’ve wanted to see your whole life but CF shakes it’s head and zooms right on past. Before too long CF starts to speed and won’t slow down. Not when you ask nicely pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top. Not when you demand. Not when you try to open the windows. Not when you try the door. Not when you work out that the child-proof locks are engaged. Not when you scream and scratch and kick at CF or when you beg or when you bargain or when you pray. Not when you slump, exhausted, in your seat speeding toward CF’s intended destination.
You never wanted to visit this place and now it looks like CF will be momentarily releasing the child-proof locks and kicking you to the curb before chucking a U-turn and peeling away in a cloud of burning rubber. Leaving you there, choking on CF’s acrid legacy. Leaving you there, with gravel rash and a twisted ankle. Leaving you there. In the middle of Timbuktu.