Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Driving practice

This weekend we decided to practice driving to the maternity hospital once again. Now, I suspect that in most cities driving from one major highway to another and then pulling off onto a short side road to visit the largest hospital in the area might not be something to be overly worried about, but Prague is a city averse to navigational convention. Highways, while named on maps, demonstrate a modestness when met that is amazing to see. They don't flaunt their numbers, they'd never overwhelm you with a compass point. If they admit to their existence at all, it's to state where they head to - neighborhood, town or city.

We found the highway to our hospital by following signs to Vienna, and then veering onto the road to Nuremberg (three hours west, in Germany). Finding our way in the first place took a try try again approach. We wanted to make sure we could find it again when circumstances might be a little more stressed. Hence our rehearsal drive, Sunday.

I should say right here that I’m a fan of cars. I love traveling out of the city to visit green hills and castles, to drink beer and eat pickled cheese in pubs discovered by chance. I like being able to turn on the radio loud and listen to driving music without having to wear headphones, and I really like being able to take back roads to mysterious places not marked on the map and figure out how to get home from there.

My family, however, does not share my enthusiasm. As soon as Caroline gets in a car she rotates between discussing her sensitive stomach and demanding to stop for a hamburger. Will grits his teeth, eulogizes public transportation, and loses all ability to navigate himself from point A to point B, even if those two points are around the block from each other. I keep a plastic bag in our glove compartment for Caroline (handy for those moments when she really does throw up) and there are times when, ten minutes into a trip, I feel like pulling it over my head and gently pulling the tabs taught.

To avoid family contention (and diminution) we don’t drive much. The last time we filled up our gas tank, we were on our way home from a Christmas trip in late December. We still have half a tank of gas to go before we face the sticker shock of gas prices, I'm guessing June will mark our next trip to a gas station. Due to extenuating circumstances however (the eminent arrival of child #2) and my lack of desire to take a taxi while in labor, Will has agreed to drive to the hospital when the time comes. To make sure we get there, we've added rehearsals to our Sunday schedules.

These practice drives have served us well, because while we still have never returned home from the hospital the same way twice, we’ve finally worked out how to get there, and all that practice has given me a chance to put together a photo map of the route for Will. I'm planning on taping it to the windshield so that I can take comfort in knowing that, even if I lose the ability to formulate sentences such as TURN RIGHT NOW, I DONT CARE IF IT SAYS AMSTERDAM, we may still make it to the maternity ward before the baby is born.

By the end of our rehearsal drive Sunday, Caroline had turned pale green from all the twisty roads we'd taken to reach home. Calling the trip done, she and I stumbled out of the car several blocks short of home and claimed an outside table at a café nearby. Will parked and found us sitting there a while later, soaking in the sun. He sat down, ordered a beer to match our apple juice, and peace reigned for several minutes. I revelled in the sunshiney weather and the knowledge that our flat was only a few short blocks away - ahh city living. Then Caroline demanded to know when we were heading to McDonalds, she was hungry, and could we go through the drive-in?

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I completely share your love of driving and finding your way home :) I think a roadtrip is in order at some point this summer!