2,016 miles. 28 hours. 7 states. 2 cats. a 135 pound great dane. and a little black prius.
when i told people that i was willingly volunteering to drive with my brother cross-country—from california to nevada, utah, colorado, nebraska, iowa and illinois—to move him back to chicago from LA, the reaction was pretty much universal.
grimace. groan. “oh man! he is going to owe you, bigtime. that sounds BRUTAL.”
i’ll admit, the scenario paints a picture that is absolutely ridiculous, if not absurd.
but to me, this was the chance of a lifetime.
the opportunity to leave the kids back at home, the daily grind far behind, and for once, not worry about “leaning forward”— an overused mantra in my industry mandating that we must constantly look forward, innovate, stay up-to-date with every new device and technology or risk falling behind, and into oblivion, for not keeping pace with the dizzying pace of change.
i was looking forward to simply sitting back.
some of my fondest memories of growing up were the rituals of our family roadtrips. i can vividly remember hauling brand new copies of “green eggs and ham” and “cat in the hat” in one hand, and my pillow and ragged winnie the pooh bear in the other, as we piled into our wood-paneled station wagon. in free-wheeling, 70s-style, we would lay the seats flat and spread out across the back, occasionally looking up to watch the cars whiz past or pull down our imaginary truck whistles when the 18-wheelers rolled by. we would pack plenty of snacks: funyuns for my brother and fritos for me, and munch away as my dad practiced his speech for the customs officers as we neared the border into canada.
in those days, the journey was just as fun as the destination. but now, we seek the quickest path from point a to b, and non-stop flights are the travel method of choice. the trip itself is an annoyance, as we brace ourselves for lines and traffic and wailing babies in the rows behind.
this time, i was just “along for the ride” so i wasn’t bogged down by the usual “baggage,” save for a small overnight bag (…ok maybe not that small as it had to fit a couple pairs of platforms for 2 nights out in LA!) and my DSLR camera.
in the car, at early dawn in silver lake, as the sun was beginning to rise over scattered palm trees and power lines, we plugged our destination into the gps…and drove.
it’s hard to describe the feeling of having such a wide stretch of open road before you.
we’d talk for hours. and sit silent for some. all while taking in the awe-inspiring views that lay ahead.
so much time. without distraction. in your thoughts. in the clouds. in the songs.
from towering mountains to rolling tumbleweeds, we immersed ourselves in the colors, the patterns, the textures of each place—details surely missed at 30,000 feet.
he drove and i shot…and shot…and shot.
when we think of states, the images usually conjured up are shapes on a map, accents and archetypes, checkpoints to cross off en route to a destination.
but this trip was magic.
on the road. “the air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that i thought i was in a dream.”
and as for my brother, well, he was leaving home, and yet returning to a place called home years ago. coming full circle.
“what is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. but we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” –jack kerouac, "on the road"