Yesterday was high 30s and soooo hawt, today is low 20s and cloudy. And currently, my feelings towards this city are as dependable as the weather.
At a glance from above, I’m just a red dot slowly approaching the end of Highway 70. Keyword: slowly. Right now that’s the rock in my shoe, the cramp in my foot, and it’s overshadowing any joy at the progress I’m making en route.
Something in me started to tick as soon as I sensed the ocean getting closer. I’d lost reception in Texas and Tennessee but now I was losing focus. A restless itch runs through me as I tap my thumb impatiently on the wheel; the road stretches ahead and I’m starting to meditate quietly through each stoplight as frustration creeps in.
Road-tripping has a romantic ring, but it’s easy to forget ‘road’ is half the title and usually more than half the while of a journey by car.
After five hours, and almost as many states, of driving in one day, crossing from Virginia, through Maryland and Delaware into New Jersey, I was hoping to arrive at the coast sometime before sunset. A five-hour drive is a small price to pay in seeking out new turf for adventure, but that was just today. Landlocked since Encinitas, California, I’d crossed the continent in ten days and it was the culmination of over forty hours of driving that was starting to get to my senses. And my lower back.
Stiff and sore, I shift around like a boat bobbing on anchor, constantly readjusting my posture. I peel my back off the seat and a breeze blows across the damp of my shirt. I’ve refilled my water bottle at least four times but still risk dehydration—I’ve been sweating since Baltimore.
Glancing at the state map for the twentieth time, the minute space I’ve inched towards the blue mass labeled ‘Atlantic’ in the last few minutes adds punch to my spirit and pressure on my gas pedal.
After slipping off the Interstate a few miles back, swapping high-speed rush hour for a slower but more direct route, the congested single lane is making me regret my decision. I’m starting to feel desperate in the haze of traffic.
This is when I pause and reflect. In this almost-there moment, I’m forgetting the now. I’m forgetting to appreciate the bridges, literal and figurative, I’ve crossed to get here.
There were many times on this trip where I could have driven further instead of stopping in time to set up camp, so I could quietly watch the sun set. There were even more times I could’ve hurried through places instead of dilly-dallying in some small-town supermarket, ogling over the new-to-me junky snacks on offer; I could’ve bypassed the scenic byway or the opportunity to snap a photo of the world’s largest rocking chair; I could’ve cut my conversation with Elma short when she started telling me about her grandkids, but those are all moments intertwined in a trip. Those are all people and places that have given me a story to tell.
But so is this one. All those high points, caught in memory or glee-filled snapshots, are riding on the back my current less-than-glamorous situation. So, as I shift back down into third (again), I simultaneously shift my mindset and take a breath. Then I wet my lips with the tepid water remaining in the bottle, crank up the radio and beat out a new rhythm on the wheel—one that vibrates with stoke.
A second note I have to add is that when I got out of the water, after this long enduring tale of a day to get in it, I was approached by a boy. A kind-of-chubby-around-18-has-his-first-chinstrap(kind of)-boy. With terrible greasy bangs. Sorry, dude. They were bad.
I’m writing to you from California! I made it!
My last (and maybe shortest) update from Halifax for a little while!