Not in my car, mind you. No, that is packed to the brim with as much of my life as I could fit in a VW Bug. Just around. There's space. Space for imagination to roam. Space for tall tales to grow.
I am not, and never will be, a desert dweller. It's so dry - too dry. But I have to admit that Disney certainly gets their landscapes right - I felt like I was driving through Cars.
|The bugs on the windshield are a nice touch, don't you think?|
210 miles into New Mexico every thought cleared from my mind except one: What the actual f*** am I DOING???
Six miles later I thanked God and the sky for the torrent that expressed the sadness I couldn't. On and on we drove, eastward, through all that space, cutting in and out of rainstorms as sudden and angry as my grief and fear.
I like the driving. It's surprising, if I'm honest. I wiggle and fidget and can hardly sit still at a desk, but driving hours on end seems to fit well. I enjoy the sense of kinship I feel with other drivers, even the faceless long-haul truckers. Especially the long-haul truckers. I can identify them by their cabs, and I want to wave as we pass each other, following those unwritten rules of road etiquette. Instead I just tap my thumb on my steering wheel and whisper, "You're doing great, girl," though whether I'm speaking to my car or myself I don't know.
I'm a terrible travel buddy, able to sit in silence for hours, listening to podcasts or music, or just caught up in my own thoughts. What do I think about that conversation? How different would that experience have been if I had acted on impulse instead of following whatever social script has been downloaded into my brain? What will my job be like? Do I already love my empty, little apartment? (Yes.) What are my characters doing? When will I be able to let them soar again? What will life be like in Nashville?
My mom doesn't mind the silence, either. She says I'm the perfect travel companion.
I'm so glad she's here.
Every so often we pass a cross on the side of the road, and this is somehow a great comfort to me. These odes to loved ones lost not only offer a reminder to be careful, but are evidence that we will never be forgotten. After all, if a stranger moving her life from Santa Barbara to Nashville can see them and offer a silent prayer for the unknown, then how many others do the same when they pass? In Orthodoxy we do not offer "Rest In Peace" as a wish for the dead, but rather, "Memory Eternal." May his/her/their memory be eternal - everlasting - ongoing. I feel as though, in the split second it takes to zoom past, the memory of these people is, indeed, eternal.
We are now over halfway to Nashville. I haven't yet changed the clock in my car to central time. I don't have it in me. Not yet. I am in between homes right now. Once I'm there I'll make the change, but for now I'm appreciating that feeling of connection with my California tribe.
Amarillo smells like cow dung, and somehow this makes me sadder than I think I would be in another place. The sad and tender part of me feels the smell as an insult, even though I normally wouldn't mind it. Tomorrow we land in Little Rock, and I hope - oh, I hope! - it smells better than here.
And then? And then Nashville! And then my sister, my brother-in-law, my four incredible and hugable nieces. Friends and relatives and a church community, all already rooted, ready to make me feel like less of a transplant and more grounded.
And then the adventurous side of Steph will be bigger than the sad side.
Pray us there, friends. Love to you all.