1. Are We There Yet?

    “Are we there yet?”

    This is the question you never really want to ask. Not when you’ve been sitting in a backseat for 20 minutes that feel like two years and you’ve already eaten all the cheerios out of that zip-lock baggie. Not five years later when you’ve been sitting in a backseat for two hours that seem like ten, and you’ve already read all your Nancy Drew books twice. Not eight years later still when you’ve been sitting in a backseat for four hours that feel like eternity and you’ve already listened to every song on your iPod a half-dozen times. You don’t want to ask the question because you know the answer. You know you’re not there yet. You wouldn’t still be in the car if you were there. You’d be there. You wouldn’t still be moving. You ask anyway.

    “Are we there yet?”

    You need to hear the answer from an authority figure, from the person behind the wheel. The person responsible for getting you there. You need them to reassure you that, despite how long it seems to be taking to get there, you will get there — though you haven’t quite gotten there yet.

    We don’t realize it when we’re young, but it’s kinda nice having someone we can ask that question to. Someone with some authority and responsibility for getting you there, someone who can tell you precisely how much longer it will be until you get there — give or take measurable and definable things like traffic and weather conditions.

    Eventually, you’re not in the backseat anymore. When you’re behind the wheel, there’s no one else to reassure you that, although you’re not there yet, you will be soon. When you’re behind the wheel and you say “Are we there yet?” you’re just talking to yourself. There’s no one there to provide you that certainty you seek, and that can be frightening. Maybe you won’t have a map. Maybe there is no map. But maybe there’s something better than arriving at a pre-determined point.

    “Are we there yet?”

    With any luck, you’ll never be able to answer that question. Because you know you’re not there yet. If you were there, you wouldn’t still be moving.

    © 2013 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller