Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Great California Escape: Road Trip

No one seems to believe me when I tell them I love road trips. 

But I really, really love driving all day long, singing, listening to podcasts and truly enjoying the quiet hum of the road, especially when I get to do it alone.

There seem to be few times in my life when my introversion really gets to come out; in the last few years especially I’ve grown into what may appear to be an extrovert, but every once in a while I need to draw shades in around my head and let my heart breathe a little. I’ve found that driving – not Los Angeles-traffic -driving, but quiet, opened road coasting – is one of the most calming and meditative experiences I can give myself.

Me and my trusty car near the Great Salt Lake, Utah
There is also something to be said about really seeing and feeling the entire country go by. To watch the desolate, brown hills of Nevada fall away to greenery and snow-covered mountains in Utah, then to feel the air change from the green rolling hills of Wyoming as you near the fields of corn in the humidity of a Midwestern rain storm. 

If I really think about the act of flying, there is something strangely inhuman about going up into the atmosphere and rising so high above the land that you don’t get to actually experience distance or time zones changing around you...But I’m getting a little philosophical here.

Suffice to say that I had a great time driving across the country, singing my heart out to myself, listening to podcasts and visiting with old friends. It was cathartic in a good way to head back home, carrying everything I own right now and visiting women who have known my since long before I moved to California. I camped alone just outside of Salt Lake City the first night, enjoying the quiet chilly air, hiked through the Wyoming hills after the rain with Marta, ate ice cream in Rapid City with Kirsten and drank wine with my grandma in southern Minnesota. I waslucky be a bridesmaid in my college friend and European adventure partner Megan’s wedding in Manitwoc, Wisconsin. Wed in the back yard of her parent’s lake home on a beautiful day ending in fireworks and dancing all night, I had a great time putting some of my event support skills to work for a dear friend.

The last day was the hardest – after the stress of the wedding weekend the final 5 hours to my parent’s house were not easy. 

The first time I drove into Minnesota, on I-90 at the south-western-most corner of the state, I had a moment of panic. Looking at the cornfields and windmills all over the road, I wondered why I would leave a life in Los Angeles for this. I kept reminding myself of the certainty, the peace, the joy I had felt when thinking about coming home, but all that farmland brought back that feeling in my gut, the desire to get away, to change my surroundings and to be the one who got out of Two Harbors.

Coming across the bridge into Duluth Minnesota, seeing the high green hills of the city rise up and the lake churn, swollen with spring run-off below me, I knew for sure: This is the best place for me.

Of course I was only home 7 days before I left again. And after going on and on about how lovely car trips are, I took an airplane this time (I’m not sure a boat would leave me feeling so settled and peaceful as the car, given my nausea). It seems like every 6 months I pop into Duluth and Minneapolis for about a week' so being home for this time felt no different and I wasn't able to give anyone an interesting answer to the question “how are you feeling about the trip!?” 

Once I put my foot on the gas in Pasadena, wiping tears from my eyes and waving goodbye to my roommates, the journey began and since then things have been shifting, peeling in and out. And it feels great.

When it’s all done and I can reflect on the whole journey, I’ll tell you my best estimate of what it all meant.

Help fund my artistic journey through Northern Ireland where I will be researching and finishing my book, working title Dear Bird for 3-4 months. Learn more about my campaign and donate here. Thank you!

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