I’ve always wanted to drive across the country but I never knew exactly what it would entail. I always thought the trip of my dreams had to be perfectly planned and that I would have to have way more money than I have right now to make it happen. This trip has been far from either of those things and yet I would still classify it as perfect. After spending two months of the pandemic. in our apartment, only going out to go hiking, grocery shopping, to walk our dog and visit family we were sitting around one day and the thought popped into my mind:
“We should go on a road-trip.”
“We should…” Michael replied.
I thought that would be the end of that conversation or that if it came up again that we would go on a few days road trip, go hiking and come back. A few days later, Michael calls me in the room and shows me our car rental options. We both decided it was too expensive.
“We might as well buy a car,” he says.
“I mean we could, if it’s cheaper or the same. We could drive it across the country…and if it’s a van we could put a bed in the back and do it for real.”
Michael immediately began looking for vans on Craigslist and before we knew it we owned one and were making lists of what we needed to take on the road. Within one week we were ready to go but not before we got a flat tire which led us to replacing all four and luckily having our van tuned up by Michael’s uncle. Our original plan was to drive it as it was which we soon realized it would’ve quite literally led us nowhere.
We finally got everything together, built a bed in the back of the van and packed everything we believed we needed for a month which really just means Michael packed three t-shirts, two pairs of shorts and his romp-him and I tried to fit in almost everything I own into one bin including one dress-up outfit because “you never know.”
While packing, it was really fun to identify the roles that we each play in our relationship at certain moments. For example, without even having to discuss it, Michael took charge of packing up our kitchen & food needs while I was in charge of our bathroom/toiletries needs. We also packed a camping bin, which for me meant throwing in my life vest and bear spray and for Michael to pack a bunch of rope and fishing stuff. I could not tell you what else lives in that bin.
We had everything except a plan. We didn’t need or want one. We would start our road-trip at my best friend’s in New Jersey and pick the next place as we arrived to our following location. Of course we had an idea of the places that we were definitely going to and the people we were definitely going to visit, but there was no particular order or time to get there, just whatever worked next. Living without time has been so liberating, I am currently unable to identify what day of the week we are on without looking at my phone intentionally, time stops and goes when it wants to and I haven’t felt the need to exert any control over it. It’s been beautiful.
We’ve explored places we’ve always wanted to see and some that have been absolutely new to at least one of us, we’ve made last minute decisions to stay where we are simply because we love it and we’ve had days where we’ve been so determined to get to where we are going that we’ve driven for hours on end. We’ve laughed at silly things, gotten annoyed at each other, had real conversations and some that have made no sense. We’ve slept in the freezing cold, in some very questionable motels and disagreed on some things until we’ve found a way to compromise.
What I’ve noticed about life on the road so far is that it is the same as life would be at the place I call home, with a lot less space and all the space I can get at once, if that makes sense. I’ve realized that I’ve so easily conformed to one place, believing I have everything I need without first exploring what’s around me because that’s what I knew, to be comfortable. I’ve learned, while standing in between two mountains or at the top of a canyon that I am so small and yet my physical fragility does not determine my choice to be big in life, while being inspired by those same things: the mountains and the canyons, the bodies of water and the deserts, the trees and the grass.
Author’s note: I never could’ve predicted that we would find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic and a revolution (though it’s been a long time coming) and though I wish there could be a way to reverse this terrible time (the pandemic) and all of the deaths that it has caused and give the justice that people of color deserve where it belongs; I have managed to find silver linings. I know not a lot of people can’t say the same. I know that some people are mourning the deaths of loved ones, I know that some people are in deep depressions due to the lack of human connection, I know that people of color are anxious, in pain and exhausted, I know we live in an unjust country, I know change needs to happen now and I know that the world will never ever be the same. While understanding this, I also understand the need to lift each other up, the need for joy in the midst of all the pain, the need to be a light during these dark times. This is why I’ve chosen to continue to share my stories. There are so many people, like I used to be, that believe that the magic of what the universe has to offer does not belong to them or that have been told that these opportunities don’t belong to them and that because they are struggling through the pandemic and/or fighting for social justice and equality they don’t deserve rest or they will be judged for it. The latter might happen but that won’t matter once we all understand that change truly and deeply happens individually and on the inside. This doesn’t mean that we can’t educate others, it just means that once we learn something, if it doesn’t take root deep within us, the change doesn’t take place. Once we truly understand equality and equal opportunities, there will be liberation.