The Long Haul . . .
. . . was an expression my father used. “Over the long haul,” we will accomplish this or that. In other words, patience and perseverance are in order.
When I visualize the long haul, I see lumbering wagons, pulled by long-suffering horses, laboring in a desolate landscape that is intolerably hot or intolerably cold, and always accompanied by thirst. The long haul takes endurance and courage.
I have had my share of long hauls: pregnancy, some teaching assignments, certain tasks like moving, house and yard work, learning to sew, type, use the computer - or other painful life adjustments. The long hauls are so long that when they are over, the “over” feels unreal, or . . . they are so long that they seem to be endless, and the process is not pleasurable for the most part.
My father called trips “long hauls,” because for him, they were. For me, trips were, and are, liberating. For me, the most mind-bending long hauls are those where the outcome is uncertain – like trips undoubtedly were for my father.
When I was eight, my father invited me on a trip, a “long haul.” It stands out in memory for me, and always will, as perfectly wonderful! We took the night bus from Pasadena to Oakland. I slept, leaning against my father. How wonderful! We spent the next morning in a park, where my father took a nap on the grass, and I played in wet sand at the edge of a little lake. In the afternoon, we took the bus to Walnut Creek where my father had business, where I tagged around the little town with him, feeling very important. In the evening, we went to see Captain Horatio Hornblower at the Paramount Theater in Oakland (and then we took the night bus back to Pasadena). The theater was like something out of a little girl's dream, all gilded, curlicued, and gorgeous. I can still see the color and hear the kettle drums in the movie. I can still hear my father saying, “That movie was worth the trip.”