Marcia's Daughter

Navigating Middle Age and Beyond

Judith A. Ross

Judith A. Ross
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
March 21
I am a contributing writer and columnist for Talking Writing, an online literary magazine, have been a regular contributor to Harvard Business Online, and am the former Senior Research Writer at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. My byline has also appeared in Harvard Business Review and numerous publications at Harvard Business School.


AUGUST 8, 2011 1:38PM

Driving Through Maine with Adele

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Road trip! Those two words never fail to bring back the first vacation my husband and  I took together. We’d known each other less than a year when we set off on a three-week camping trip that took us up the East Coast and west through Canada into his home state of Michigan.

This was 1982. We entertained ourselves by listening to the CBC, and by going through our collection of cassette tapes.

Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot was a favorite throughout the trip. We sailed down the long flat roads of Ontario, windows open, with songs like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “If You Could Read My Mind” guiding our way.

 And, though our time together could only be measured in months back then, I did feel “Beautiful” — for the first time in my life.

We had no idea what the next 30 years would hold, but we were certain that we would be together.

And sure enough, we still are. Last week we set out on a five-hour drive up to Maine. An innocent text from my son about some damage our puppy had done in the few hours since we'd left set me off. I went on and on (and on) about it while my husband stoically kept the car pointed north. Still feeling beautiful? Not so much.

With the exception of a bit of freelance work, I have been largely unemployed for a year. I’ve been fine, even happy for most that time, but since last June, when my husband retired and the aforementioned adult son came home for a few months, I have been, shall we say, a less than ideal companion. So much change all at once combined with a terrifying political climate has left me angry, scared, and struggling to control the uncontrollable. 

I finally pulled myself together as we neared our destination. I apologized for the tyrade, and we spent the next few days relaxing with our friends, eating delicious food, and hiking through gorgeous surroundings. My optimism about life was, for the moment, restored.

As we made our way home from northern Maine, we plugged in our iPod. My husband put on Adele while I took a turn at the wheel.

Driving down route 95, with Adele's heat and emotion filling the car, my mind wandered back to the days when love seemed nearly impossible to find, and was often fleeting. Past lovers and crushes drifted by as we neared home. The best one was still beside me. 

She’s right you know, “Sometimes it lasts in love and sometimes it hurts instead.”

Author tags:

unemployment, family, music, travel, love

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Isn't amazing how road trips spark so many memories? The music and the drifting sense of always being in motion, of always moving forward, of never stopping--it's a thick brew, one in which sometimes, maybe we find a little self-compassion. This is a beautiful piece, Judith. (rated)