There is nothing quite like being on the road.
The romanticism of endless opportunities.
You may be behind the wheel, but you are purposely putting yourself out there for anything to happen.
You need it to.
Tomorrow I embark on another. Through Western Texas and all of New Mexico along with my traveling companion, my mother.
Below are some snippets from angsty journal entries I kept during hopeful self-discovery road trips where I needed answers to plop down on the road in front of me.
*Warning– I sound like a typical 24 year-old whiny little bitch.
-San Francisco to Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, April 2008–
I had left my job in LA and had become completely lost and disillusioned with the city, my age, and my goals. I thought that a spontaneous solo drive up the coast might give me some answers:
“With the 101 came assurance that I would get to my destination in a timely manner. But on the Pacific Coast Highway, after every stretch of nothingness came another stretch of nothingness, and the sight no longer was beautiful to me. It made me angry. Relief came when I got to Monterey and I sped back to the 101 as fast as I could. Having extended my journey to San Francisco by another three hours because of the PCH, I arrived into town just as the sun was going down. Five minutes in, my child-like wonderment dissipated when I realized that I had no idea where I was going to stay or why I was even there in the first place. It was Saturday night and at the red lights I watched from my car window all the happy people exiting restaurants and walking in groups down the street. Laughing, holding hands, pissing in alleyways. I wanted to be a part of that. I imagined rolling down the window and saying, “Excuse me guys, can you please tell me where I’m gong?” I spent four hours wandering the city then left. I was rattled with angst and frustration. At myself, at the city, at the ocean, at the happy people walking down the street, and at the damn bellied up seals lazily laying in the sun earlier that afternoon. What was I looking for and why I did I waste so much time and money trying to find it?
That about sums up my early 20’s right there.
As I made my way back down the 101 less than 4 hours from the last time I saw it, I concentrated on what I could have possibly gotten out that trip. No answers rolled down from the cliff sides, came in the form of talk radio, or splayed across the road signs. Instead, I was stuck with the endless road that will bring me back to square one.”
-Grand Canyon to the Salton Sea on Route 10, June 2008-
“You know the days when you hate everything? When you want to run away from it all? Run to a toxic wasteland hidden in the deserts of Southern California where the beaches are made of fish bones and the air smells of decaying wildlife? Where houses and public spaces have been abandoned and the only sign of life is the occasional farm truck that kicks up dust in the empty streets?
I know I do.
However, I quickly learned after visiting such a place, The Salton Sea, that 110 degree California desert + dead fish = millions of flies and a smell unlike anything you’ve ever smelled in your life. Plus living amongst self-governed meth manufactures without running water is kind of a huge turn-off.”
-Los Angeles to Austin on Route 10, September 2008–
One day I put what I could in my car and left Los Angeles, a town I had worked and lived in for five years, and moved to a city I had never been to nor knew anyone who lived there:
“As I watch the sights that I’ve seen a million times before grow smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror, I think about all my failures in this city. And a boy.
My failures in Los Angeles and failure with the boy are insignificant to the greater picture of this move, yet they’re all I can think about…
…It’s 7PM and I haven’t eaten all day save for some Doritos and a Vitamin Water. The lights of downtown Phoenix begin to blur, not because of tears but because of hunger on all accounts.
I need to pull over.
I turn off of the next exit. It’s dark. It doesn’t look promising. A Holiday Inn, a Love’s, and a Flying J. Then like a guiding flare- the white and yellow sign of a Cracker Barrel appears. For the first time on this trip, I smile. I scream. I cheer. I pound the steering wheel. My shaky hands turn the wheel into the parking lot and I’m so overwhelmed with emotion, I can’t get out of the car.
I float into the restaurant feeling complete disconnect from everything. I stare, open-mouthed at the Christmas ornaments adorning the wall as I wait to be seated. I’m lead to a table where I write this and anxiously wait to purge my food and my thoughts.”
-Los Angeles to Austin on Route 10, September 2008–
Same drive as before, stopped at truck stop motel in New Mexico:
“I slept in Lordsburg, New Mexico last night. A railroad town, a border town. Not a ghost walked the lone sidewalk. I drove down the main drag to one cheap motel after another. Neglected and outdated signs guiding the way. They all looked the same. Midnight and stucco. Cream and rot. Somewhere in the dark, I spotted a florescent beacon that told me that was where I was to sleep.
It takes a lot to work up my nerves, but I felt as if I’d seen my motel room before. In a movie where cops discover the body of a young woman lying on the floor. I checked underneath the bed but turned up only black beetles and locusts. The room had a distinct smell, one I couldn’t quite pinpoint. It would be easy to say it smelled musty, but it didn’t. It smelled frightening. Like sex and death. And I longed for someone to be here with me. Dangerous, macabre motel rooms should not be experienced alone, but with cheap liquor and some else to feel the scratch of polyester comforters on bare skin.”
Do you enjoy road trips? What is your favorite memory?