Nothing Like a Drive Around the State

I like to drive around town a lot. Here's why.

Everybody has their getaway place that they like to hit up whenever life's troubles tend to pile up on them. They come in many forms – it could be a bar, a field, a friend's house or anything in between.

For me, my getaway place is within the confines of my 2002 Chevy Cavalier – in other words, my car. That is where I can go to get away from all the things that are plaguing my mind, if only for a little while. 

Of course, the car make and model has changed time and time again, but the escape method has always been tried and true ever since I got my license. 

Being the youngest of three, the stresses and frustrations of not being able to fight back whenever my brother or sister would talk crap about me would really begin to pile up. This gave me a really bad temper that can flare up at the most inopportune times. I wasn't physically strong enough to fight them since they could both lay me out in one punch. I was mentally strong enough, but wasn't able to get the words out in time or it would come out 12 times more screwed up than intended.

And emotionally… Let’s just say the word "crybaby" would have more than likely included a picture of me in the dictionary. The only way I could escape was if I went for a walk, but even then, I couldn't walk too far away and walking after sundown wasn't always a bright idea. 

So when I got my license, I began to find a new way to de-stress. Whenever I'd get angry, I'd just grab my keys and storm out for a while. I'd get in the car and just start driving anywhere possible.

I'd swerve through the long and winding roads of West Kingston, cruise along Ocean Road all the way to the Point Judith Lighthouse, and even find myself in Wickford, observing the bustling crowds taking in the day at hand. It was fun and relaxing to just drive around and take the time to just take in everything. 

In due time, I began to make this not just into a way to de-stress but also as a way to pass time. I would hang out with friends and we'd just go drive around. Half of my friends would get annoyed because there was no destination. The other half usually enjoyed it, but would get annoyed when I'd change the radio stations like a madwoman.

This is a perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday with friends. While there is no destination initially, sometimes we would find ourselves doing things we never thought we would do. I think one time, I ended up buying a kite and flying it at the beach with a friend for no apparent reason.  It just was good kite flying weather and Benny's had a really good sale on kites.

Other times, we'd end up at the mall for a few moments, wondering what's going on. More often than not, it was just going around the winding roads and listening to good and bad music. 

In a way, driving around aimlessly is a pretty damn good metaphor for how I like to live. Nothing is ruled out, there's no real destination, but it's not the point. It's about the adventures and the fun times that ensue from the time I pull out of the driveway until the time I head back home. 

There's one particular adventure in driving around that I had in my senior year, but that's another story for another day. It's easily one of my favorite high school memories and a great friendship moment. It's hard to explain in one paragraph though, so I'll just leave it at that. 

Since gas prices lately have been costing an arm and a leg, the drives haven't been that common for me. I need to save my money and I need to preserve my gas so I can get to and from school.

That being said, I still make time at least once a month to spend a day just driving around, or even a night. Especially Sunday nights, where I flip on Strictly Sinatra, which is on 99.1FM, a Boston station that tends to come in clearly down in Narragansett.

There's nothing that makes you feel more like a boss than driving around at night with the Chairman of the Board crooning some great standards.

If not that, then it's usually 100.9FM based in Mystic, which is one of the few oldies stations that actually plays things from the 1950s and 1960s still. (By the way, why is it that there's no oldies stations that play stuff from that period anymore?! All I hear is the 1970s... Come on, man, someone needs to jump on that!). 

Honestly, if I were to tell everybody to do at least one thing, it's to set aside some time during some day at least once a month. Use that time to just get in your car and drive around. It doesn't matter if you're stressed, bored, or whatever else you may be feeling. There's nothing quite like a drive around town. 

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Michelle Platt April 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Loved hearing about the Rhode Island landmarks in this column...now that I live so far away from home (RI) I looked fondly back at browsing at Benny's and going to Pt. Judith! I used to love to just drive, as well. I especially liked heading to Newport, with barely enough gas to get there and back...just to browse around, smell the fresh, salty ocean air, and meet interesting people (usually tourists). Sometimes I'd cruise through Roger Williams Park (although sometimes a bit "shady" for a girl alone! I loved the feeling of no real destination...just the freedom of simply driving and listening to music (I had a casette player, and blasted Billy Squire, Hall & Oates, and everything DISCO - especially Evelyn Champagne King, not to mention "oldies" from the 50's and 60's (just like the writer of the article, ironically enough!) Reading that story from a young person's perspective brought me back in time to when I did the same thing. Scouring RI was so much fun...I also remember heading to Atlantic Mills (the original department store; before Walmar!!) in Lincoln, going to Lincoln Woods to swim, heading to Pulaski Park in Chepachet, driving to Foster (where I spent a few years growing up in the country) and the place that we always heard on the radio was "closed due to snow" I loved growing up in the smallest state in the country, and think fondly back to when I drove around with no particular destination at all. Michelle "Missy Lewis" Platt michellemplatt@comcast.net
Michelle Platt April 19, 2012 at 12:19 PM
I love reading the Patch - as it makes me feel connected to my home state of Rhode Island! Reading about all the landmarks that remind me of home warms my heart!
Stephen Greenwell (Editor) April 19, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Thanks Michelle, I'm glad you enjoy it!


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