Monday, October 27, 2008
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” ~Alan Keightley
“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” ~Frank Herbert
travel is my alarm clock. it buzzes in my brain and puts my feet on the ground. it removes the sleep from my eyes and brushes the stale taste from my teeth. each day on the road is like morning - dreams still weaving their way through your waking thoughts, coffee speeding your excited talk with old friends and new strangers. each day you decide where you will go, what you will do, and ultimately, who you will be. and often, the road will tell you otherwise, and then you get to find out who you really are.
I have been back a week now from an epically gorgeous cross-country road trip. I am not the same. I am never the same, the pillow doesn't feel the same, the muscles in my face have changed - so much smiling. I sent my mom a text message on the last day of our journey, I told her I was not ready to leave the road yet. she responded with a reminder of how nice "home" is. I told her, I feel more at home on the road. on the road everything is that vibrant mixture of familiar and strange, exciting and mundane. in between the opposites, your brain is called on to constantly work it out - how to feel, what to think. in this state of awareness, you are fully alive, you miraculously recover from the coma of routine and meet each sight, smell and taste with the wonder of a child.
and yes, of course it is exhausting. always being awake to life - but that is why hotel rooms have cable. you can pick and choose how much you are able and willing to take in. fortunately I was accompanied by two valiant road warriors on my journey. jg and heidi were right there by my side, ready to fearlessly face the unknown of a tennessee dive bar or, in heidi's case, the taste of memphis dry ribs after 10 years of vegetarianism. together we navigated through the colors of autumn. we met new friends and old friends along the way. kimberly opened her apartment and her heart to us in brooklyn and shared giggles with us on the air mattresses at night. ron and his mom made us laugh our arses off despite the dodgers loss while in phillies territory. sara was the best guide one could wish for leading us through the post-apocalyptic wonder that is detroit. the strangers sitting at the bar in the lamplighter lounge in memphis became quick friends as we sat sharing stories over pbr's. and two friendly baristas in fort smith, arkansas made our lattes and our night as they listened in wonder to the tales of our journey.
it's not the miles you travel, or the local fare you try, or the pictures you take, it's the people you share the ride with, and the people who share their homes with you, and the people you meet along the way. it's the people who take you as you are and give you themselves in return. I was lucky on this trip, the people were nothing short of beautiful. I am thankful for them, and the road.