highwayLast year at this time, I did something I’d never done before. I drove from Chicago to Colorado Springs by myself. I once drove from Chicago to LA, but I was caravaning with another car. This time I was on my own.

And I liked it. I didn’t realize I would.

In fact, I liked it enough that in September I drove to Chicagoland to see my mother, then to Indianapolis for a writers conference, and then back to Colorado.

And I liked it.

I’m writing this as I’m getting ready to do it again for another visit with my mother. Here are 7 reasons I like doing this.

1. Barring an emergency, no one can need me. The sense of “urgent” fades away.

2. I can start an audiobook and pretty much listen to it straight through, which is more satisfying than constantly moving in and out of a story.

3. Despite all the jokes about how boring the landscape is in Nebraska and Iowa, it’s a welcome relief to my eyes to look at something other than screens.

4. I don’t have to worry about whether anyone else is hungry. Eat what I want when I want. No cooking!

5. I can take a deep breath and savor it without wondering what I’m supposed to be doing.

6. I can’t work while I drive.

7. I can think a whole thought all the way through—or no thought at all.

• What about you? What gives you a badly needed buffer zone?