By Donna Sachet–
Our holiday season ended with a once-in-a-lifetime adventure…our first personal road trip with our little pup Peanut. As some of you know, we don’t often get behind the wheel of a car, much to the relief of those who witnessed my driving skills, but we rented a sturdy Nissan four-door and took the road a few days before Christmas, direction Dallas, Texas, where our dear friends Richard Sablatura and Norm Claybaugh recently moved. The word “adventure” barely describes the event. With a few weeks to ponder all of this, we have come to three conclusions and will share them here with our readers.
First, the shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but going straight has never been our modus operandi. From the beginning, our road has been winding. We find something claustrophobic about driving over a bridge…those narrow lanes, the edges of the bridge itself and the barriers between us and oncoming traffic, so our first priority was to avoid the bridges, a priority that was quickly shelved since the only rental cars available in the area were at Oakland Airport.
Then, in order to escape the winter conditions, we drove as far south as possible into California before heading east. We immediately found in Peanut the ideal passenger, if not a particularly participative co-pilot; she slept comfortably in the passenger seat, only occasionally coming close to our lap, eventually placing her head and forelegs there. After crossing California and then east to the borders of Arizona, we chose our first night’s accommodation in a nondescript motel in the small town of Needles.
Having more experience with at least two-star hotels, we found the accommodations austere, thin walls, and persistent outside noise, just like Peanut. Every audible disturbance caused barking or growling, merely his way of serving as a bodyguard, but not conducive to restful sleep. Finally, in the pitch black of night, the reception called, telling us that unless we could control our dog, they should ask us to leave the premises. Truly! We no longer waited for communication and just packed our bags and got back on the highway at 2am. And so began a series of driving segments, interrupted by in-car naps at rest stops along the way, a few more attempts at motel accommodations with similar results, and truck stops to refuel. energy bites, i.e. junk food.
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were hazy, carefully guided by our trusty Apple map, alternating explosive dance music and
local radio stations with self-proclaimed monologues and complete silence. Proximity to Dallas was a big relief, achieved by no straight line, but a curved path of stops and starts with plenty of stamina. It’s a bit like our life.
Second, we know now, like never before, that traditions, especially associated with the holidays, should be malleable and that where we are and what we do is never as important as who we share with. our time. The aforementioned Richard Sablatura has become one of our closest friends and his departure from our everyday life in San Francisco has left a huge void. Do not work together on songs of the season, not be with him Help is on the way for the holidays, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus holiday concert, the Golden Girls drag show and so many other events led to a somewhat disjointed holiday season, but took us in different directions and opened up timeshares with different people , Fortunately.
But being in Dallas with Richard and Norm for Christmas, chatting about San Francisco and touring the Dallas gay scene, exchanging gifts on Christmas morning under their traditional tree in front of a crackling fire, sharing meals and hearing about their new life, and witnessing Richard’s remarkable recovery process and incredible support for his partner all made for a refreshing new holiday season. Beyond the seemingly endless ride and frequent frustrations along the way, we’re so glad we made the decision to visit them on their first Christmas in Dallas. Our friendship couldn’t be stronger.
Third, motor vehicles are inherently one of the most dangerous things in the hands of almost anyone, capable of causing immense damage and even loss of life, forever changing the lives of the driver and all those with whom this conductor comes into contact. As we zip along these 8-lane highways at speeds often exceeding 75 miles per hour in our 2-ton mechanical cages, even a moment of distraction can potentially spell disaster. For every law-abiding driver, there are others who take every opportunity to circumvent or disobey clear laws, simply out of a desire to get to their chosen destination sooner.
Often this recklessness turns into bravado and sometimes road rage, adding enormously to the potential for tragedy. Our most treacherous moments came on the last leg of the trip as we encountered heavy rain and wind from San Jose to San Francisco. As the visibility diminished, the driver’s patience seemed to follow. As a casual driver, we found our grip on the wheel tightening as passing cars spat water splashes in their wake, trucks crossed multiple lanes, and petulant drivers flashed their headlights or honked their horns. to assert their importance.
Thoughts of stopping to wait out the incessant bad weather were thwarted by the fear of changing lanes, slowing down for an exit, and finding no safe haven. Never have we been so aware of the importance of safe driving or so grateful for the skill and care of those Ubers, taxis, Muni, streetcar drivers and friends who generously take us from place to place. . We encourage you to recognize safe drivers and resolve to take extra precautions on the roads today. An extra moment of focus, a simple act of patient kindness, or simple compliance with the rules of the road can save lives and prevent unnecessary heartache.
So, without getting too deep into the nitty-gritty of a 50-hour round-trip trek across America, we offer these conclusions. Even if available, don’t be tempted by the straight when the winding road may present more insight. While comfortable, long-established traditions may be worth considering, and cherished friendships may be worth the time and trouble. And while getting to your destination is the most important thing right now, don’t make cavalier decisions that will have disastrous consequences. These are not the conclusions our readers might have expected from our trip, but please think a little about each. May they guide you to a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2022!
Donna Sachet is a celebrated artist, fundraiser, activist, and philanthropist who has dedicated more than two decades to San Francisco’s LGBTQ community. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on January 13, 2022