My husband gave me a new car for my fiftieth birthday. You are maybe thinking what I was thinking, and what I actually, stupidly, churlishly, began to say out loud: "You're giving the editor of a car magazine a new car?" But having worked for tips during my formative years, I instantly recovered, adding, "Sweetheart! That's just wonderful! I . . . I . . . I can't believe it!" I was holding the oil cap of a Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata, which I'd just dumped from the manila envelope he'd handed me. (A few words about my husband's joyful gift giving. He can't wait. He drives directly from the jewelry store to my office, three full weeks before Christmas, and hands me the pearls across my desk. He throws open the trunk of the car, pulls the new Ruger Red Label .28 gauge over-and-under shotgun-with special wood for the stock and a little woodcock engraving on the receiver, both of which he wrangled from the factory-from the trunk, and presses it into my hands. He grabs the front of my flannel pajamas, hauls me to a seated position in bed, and shouts, "Merry Christmas! Look!" and I am staring at an ice-fishing shanty he has assembled in the pre-dawn darkness, in the flower garden, just outside the bedroom window. It comes with a power ice auger that I can't lift. The longbow and wooden arrows. The kayak. The camouflage Ruger .12-gauge over-and-under duck gun. He is a serious sport.)
We made Truckee, California, the first night; Laramie, Wyoming, the second; and Iowa City, Iowa, the third. There was no drama to report on Interstate 80. I drove for exactly three hours; Tim reeled off the rest. Long car trips make me sleep like an infant (even with the seat nearly vertical, as it is in the MX-5; even with the slam-bang of the tight suspension hitting expansion strips on the interstate). There was enough crap packed in around the passenger footwell that Tim wouldn't have been able to scrunch in on that side, anyway. As it was, I could exit only by pulling my feet from my shoes. It's a wonder I didn't develop deep-vein thrombosis from not moving for hours on end.