To anyone who has gone on a road trip or longs to do so:
It’s dark out as you pull your car onto your street. You pass by neighbor’s blackened windows wishing, for a second, that you too are still in bed fast asleep. But then you think of what lies ahead. You remember the road trip and all thoughts of sleep vanish. You reach for your coffee and punch the gas.
The sun breaks over the horizon bathing the world golden just as you leave the last of the familiar behind. The highway in front of you is foreign and you can’t wait to explore. You settle into a groove on the highway, speeding along beside other travelers listening to your favorite tunes.
The hours pass in a blur as you count cars, noticing license plates. The truck you’ve been behind for the past hour gets off at the next exit and you feel a twinge of sadness at the sudden good bye. A fellow traveler has left you alone. Still you press on. Landscape changes as the road begins to climb. Small town after small town appear along the route. You wonder about the lives of the people living there. Is life difficult? Are they happy? It makes you realize just how vast the country is; how varied.
You glance at the near empty fuel sign and realize that it’s time to stop. Feeling upset that the groove will be broken, you pull off the highway and pull into a tiny gas station in a tiny town. Grimy from the hours in a car, you get out and stretch. Locals eye you, the out-of-towner. You don’t belong.
The tank is full and with a fresh cup of coffee you pull back onto the highway. You turn on the radio as you attempt to get back into that driving groove. The options are limited in these parts and you finally settle on a local country station. Well played songs alternate with small town updates of lost pets and used car commercials. Small insights into the area. A community that you are not a part of but just passing through.
Always passing through. Loneliness sets in as you drive onward. The radio DJ announces a local fundraiser dinner. You think of home, so many many miles back and smile as you picture your town; your community. But it’s time to shake that off. Seeing the country, finding what is different and unique, that was your goal. Home is for the known and the familiar. It’s time for a change.
Time to feel alive!
The miles add up. You have chased the sun across the sky and it now sets. The western sky is filled with pink and orange tinted clouds as the lights of the towns around you twinkle on. Traffic grows heavy as people rush home. But you feel suspended in time, no home and no destination. You only exist in the now; you and the road.
The hum of the interstate threatens to lull you to sleep. Darkness is heavy now that you have passed the city lights. You pull over at a rest stop, get out and breath in the fresh cool air. Looking up you are shocked by the stars. They are everywhere. The same night sky as home, yet somehow so different.
“This is the reason I set off on this adventure”, you think. This is what I wanted. To see the country, to feel it vibrate beneath you, to live.
You climb back in the car, smiling, and pull back onto the interstate. Onward. Always onward…