Lake Norman & Mooresville

Delighted to be driving in circles

I was going around in circles. Happily.

How often does that sort of thing happen?

It all began at my yoga class at the Concord Sports Center. One of my classmates came up to me, phone in hand.

“Barbara,” she asked, “Did you see this?”

It was first thing in the morning, and I was not fully awake. I looked blearily at the screen. The picture showed a row of people, kids and adults, holding balloons, standing before a set of street barriers. Everyone was grinning. She touched her finger to the screen and the picture changed. It was a shot of a suburban Concord street. No people. No barriers. Just an empty road.

Same street though.

“Ah,” I said in recognition. “I mean – I didn’t see the people and the balloons, but I did see it. I have to pass that intersection to get here from where I live. On the way home, I’m taking the long way,” I added, “just to drive that road.”

“People are posting pictures on Facebook, they are so excited,” she added.

After yoga class, I drove home the long way, just as I said I would. For someone who plans trips – even short ones – to use the least amount of gas possible, this was a splurge.

I drove into our driveway, walked in to the house and asked my husband, Ralf, if he wouldn’t mind going for a short ride with me.

This has never happened in more than three decades of married life. Most of the time, when we go anywhere together, he drives and I read.

He was nonplussed.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said cheerfully. “Let’s go around in circles!”

“This is new?” he asked.

I snorted.

We got in the car and I drove us around the corner to the left. We reached the stop sign. I turned right.

Ralf registers change quickly.

“Oh,” he said laughing. “Now I understand.”

And so we happily drove down Burrage Road for the first time since the spring of 2014, when the barriers went up, the stop sign went up, and the road closed sign went up. We drove up the new road, all shiny and dark. We took a right at Lake Concord Road, another right at Branchview Drive, and I drove back home.

It was tempting to do it all again, but I restrained myself.

I thank all the people who made our new bridge and our new road possible. I am glad for the new bicycle lanes on each side and the beautiful new sidewalks. Bikers and runners and pedestrians are using them; so will I.

Since the road was opened, I have been able to take shorter ways to run errands. It is a complete delight to know I can save a little gas by doing so.

Sometimes I drive a loop to run those errands; it is not only sensible, it’s fun. I appreciate the freedom to drive Burrage Road; we had been living with a detour that seemed like it had become a fixture of our existence. It feels like I’ve been given a gift.

I missed the party when the barrier went down. I have no pictures of the celebration.

But I have happily, enthusiastically, been running around in circles ever since Burrage Road was opened again.

Barbara Thiede is a freelance writer: