The road to Hippocamp Writers’ Conference is dark with no bathrooms and requires driving for hours through torrential rain, tunnels and construction zones, and being blocked in by eighteen wheelers. Holding my pee, I eased through the EZ pass gate where I took a wrong turn last year, nervous to get it right in 2019. I glanced at the map on my phone, but there were flashing lights all around and too many choices, so I took another wrong turn, but a different one this time, so not even the wrong surroundings were familiar. It was a brand new wrong turn, and now I’m in a detour lane with no shoulders or exits.
PROCEED TO THE ROUTE my British male Siri barks, clearly annoyed.
At this moment, from the bowels of my iTunes library, came the sound of an oncoming train-ch-ch-ch-ch WOOOOOOOOT WOOOOOOOOT ALL ABOOOOAAAARD… Party Train by The Gap Band circa 1983 thumps out of my stereo speakers. PROCEED TO THE ROUTE British male Siri insists urgently. Every all aboard Anybody want to take this ride the funky beat surges louder.
My churning gut emits a fetid belch and I catch a whiff of nervous sweat blossoming in my armpits. PROCEED TO THE ROUTE PROCEED TO THE ROUTE British male Siri screams, as if somehow I can comply. I cannot PROCEED TO THE fucking ROUTE because I’m in a fucking detour lane in bumper to bumper traffic, flying through the darkening dark with orange and white striped barrels on one side and a solid barrier with angry reflectors on the other. Our reluctant trio flies on through the night, The Gap Band, British male Siri, and I.
Suddenly the highway widens into two lanes and traffic spans out.
Get down, get down, get down tonight We’re gonna party, gonna party on the train tonight…
Jesus Christ, can I take my hand off the wheel to turn off that goddamn song now?
The car directly to my left rear-ends the car in front of it with a screech and bang.
Damp fingers grip the wheel until a blessed exit sign appeared. I silence British male Siri and an iTunes library in need of serious updating, and enter Lancaster, PA through side door.
P.S. Hippocamp19 was AWESOME and I am so glad I went. Next year I am flying.