It is a dilemma I find myself facing more and more often as I approach the end of my twenties:
To commit fully to my adulthood – embrace the fact that I am a husband and a father and a working professional whose nine-to-five often has to be treated as a nine-to-nine , after all – or to occasionally indulge the last straining bits of my 18-year-old self who is still convinced that road trips, all-nighters, and mass consumption is not irresponsible or impossible to pull off in this later-model of body and psyche he is currently contained within.
To my credit, current me usually wins the argument. But on occasion – like when my favorite band from college, Jimmy Eat World, is performing a concert two hours away in Cincinnati on a weeknight – 18-year-old Brian hatches a pretty convincing scheme.
What follows are a few notes from my most recent expedition into my past youthfulness, with what I hope are helpful insights for other working-professional Louisvillians who are not entirely ready to give up on a spirit and enthusiasm that may not be completely fitting to their age.
1) TIMING IS EVERYTHING – Remember that 5PM is not the ideal time to start your road trip. While it is responsible to finish out an entire workday, 71 North is NEVER not congested between 4 and 6PM. While traffic wasn’t too much of a problem on my latest Cincinnati trip, an overnighter back in November got off to an awful start when I encountered a two mile stretch of 71 that was completely shut down and cost me an hour and a half with an over-heating car.
2) MAKE SURE YOUR CAR IS UP FOR IT, TOO – Yeah… That overheating thing really sucked. Though the Meineke Car Care shop on Broadway liked the business I gave them when I got back to town.
3) LAGRANGE – The Lagrange exit off of 71 North is a great place to re-fuel and/or get food on either leg of the trip. It is just far enough from Louisville to make you feel like you are “on the road,” but close enough to still feel familiar.
4) DOUBLE-CHECK THE GPS – Occasionally, technology isn’t as smart as a living, breathing human being. Unless you like driving in circles in a foreign downtown, make sure that the address the GPS is defaulting to is the actual address of the destination – and not some confused interpretation of that place.
5) MAKE SURE YOUR REASON TO MAKE THE TRIP IS TOTALLY WORTH IT – My affection for Jimmy Eat World is akin to what many feel for their favorite sports team. Finally getting to see them perform after a decade of fandom was what I imagine going to the Super Bowl for the first time was like for my boss a few weeks ago. But make sure the reason you are making this weeknight road trip maneuver is something you REALLY feel strongly about. This helps make any negatives you encounter seem minor, even when they are not.
6) GET SOME SLEEP – Once upon a time, heading back on the interstate after two hours of rock and roll didn’t seem so daunting. But don’t kid yourself – you aren’t up for that anymore. Finding a friend with a guest bedroom in your destination city allows you to get at least a little bit of shut-eye before heading back to the ‘Ville.
7) TIMING IS EVERYTHING AGAIN – Make sure that your trip back has you leaving the metro area you are in with enough lead time to avoid the heaviest part of MORNING rush hour.
8) MAKE SURE YOU LEFT EXTRA MOUNTAIN DEW IN THE WORK BREAKROOM REFRIGERATOR – Not going home between workdays presents a few unanticipated speed bumps, one of these being that it doesn’t allow you a chance to load your duffel bag with soda like you do most mornings. A day after a rock and roll show and less-than-premium sleep is a day you REALLY need the extra push from caffeine and sugar. Make arrangements.
9) SMILE AT YOUR CO-WORKERS – Nobody likes a grumpy-pants. Smiling lots makes it harder for people to tell how tired you are.
10) GET SOME SLEEP AGAIN – Thankfully, my wife is understanding and, despite my protests, insisted I head to bed before 9PM the next day. My 18-year-old self was ashamed at such a cop out, but the two girls that live with 28-year-old me liked being around me a LOT more the next day. Some wisdom you never get naturally, despite your age. You just have to marry into it.
Jimmy Eat World | Bogart's in Cincinnati | 2.17.11
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Photo courtesy of Jud Bell