The past week I finally hopped in my car and headed south. I have been stating my desire to do so for months- and making excuses for why I couldn’t possibly take time off and enjoy the open road. But a wedding is an even better excuse to say, I couldn’t possibly work and miss such a beautiful occasion.
Its been a very busy year both in the world and inside my head. So many thoughts have been generating and bouncing off each other, that my body has taken a physical hit. As a kid we would collect super/bouncy balls about the size of a half dollar. Once we had a bucket full, we would throw them down our hallway and watch as they bounced out of control, knocking them this way and that, high energy… until, eventually, the chaos stopped, and they bowed down to gravity- rolling toward the grooves in of the hardwood floor. That’s what the past year has felt like to me and I was finally rolling into the grooves of the open road.
Driving down the I-5 and the 101 can be majestically and hideous. There are many sights to see that make you remember you are living in an ecosystem as well as an economically driven system. Once you’ve found yourself surrounded by mountains and rivers, your ego takes a hike and you actually begin to breath deeper. Ahh, nature. For some reason a 1,000 trees isn’t as exhausting as 1,000 people. They don’t beg for attention, or even push their own thoughts onto you. They are truly humble creatures.
Once I reached Humboldt county, I could smell the coast and I instantly felt home. I decided that social obligations could wait and I would pay a visit to Trinidad. It was just as I remembered, sun glistening on the whitecaps rolling in, birds dancing among the tall grass, and the wind gently rubbing my back as if to say “welcome, everything is going to be alright.” It’s interesting to watch ocean currents along the coastal line. They are contradictory, but as soon as your gaze moves farther out to sea, the current seems still- and you can’t tell which direction its moving. I like that. In the city, you can feel all the wind currents, all the people, the cars, trains, planes, and automobiles, and every direction they are moving in. Everything has a trajectory.
From my point of view there were many sites to see and reflect on. This home was a place of self discovery and there were many challenges as a young women coming into her own. A bird’d eye view is always a safer place to reflect upon. Its a challenge to reflect on your experience while still walking its haunting hallways. Open spaces leave room for exploration and the solitude will let you truly see things from your current state of mind and not others.
Each time I go back, I see things a little different. My attachment/connection to this place seems to fade and alter. But its a shelter I took refuge in for four years of my life.
I arrived to a group of open arms and smiles. BBQ and dancing in the street made me feel like I was 21 again.
The next morning the town loaded up their cars and we paraded to Elizabeth Drive. Now we were all adults. The couples were finding places to cuddle up in the shade, new mothers and fathers were exchanging turns holding newborns, and the singles were mingling. All is sundresses, heals, ties, vests, and stylish hats. Suddenly, we were all standing together not howling at the moon, but honoring it.
The bride to be and the groom were crying before any words were spoke. Tears of joy, I assure you. But maybe also tears of amazement and shock. How did we get here? How did we all get here? Some say by moving forward, one step in front of the other- a trajectory. But, I think it was in the chaos we all found magnets to cling to. We found our resting spot and the groove to fall into place with- and we did it together. All of our lives bouncing of one another takes us to this place of rest and gratitude.
After dancing for eight hours, after a full nights of dancing and drinking, after a full day of driving, I was ready to find some solitude. I decided the Minor theater was a great place of refuge. Something about a dark theater and the back row seat always helps me take everything into a focus. I then spent the night driving out to the coast again. It was late and the fog was rolling over the beams of my headlights. I found the shoreline with college kids lighting of fireworks. It made me think of flares. Help is needed here. Come find us- but we’ll don’t rush, we are enjoying our time here.
It was another moment of reflection and to be fair – tears. I wasn’t sure what for or about, but it felt good to contribute to the salty air. Something let go and then I knew, I would be leaving the next morning.
I awoke to an inspiration for driving. I headed east and found another audience of trees to feel quiet with. I then returned to town and said my goodbyes. I was able to share a meal with a mentor and professor from my undergraduate studies. She continues to inspire me. Then I headed south.
The road to one home from another is winding and altering in speed. It’s 80 miles an hour: a rush for excitement and then 25 miles and hour: contemplative and curious. I love that the river travels with you, following along side. Rivers are not like the ocean, they have trajectories. So it helps to have a partner in crime when moving forward. I suppose that’s why we marry. Everyone wants a hand to hold when daring to take steps on a path of the unknown.
Coming home to your childhood bed and your parent’s arms of comfort will fill you up like a cup of hot cocoa. Sleep after two days of driving and socializing is the blanket of marshmallows on top.
Home was beautiful, in its views, but also in its existence. It’s nice to have a place of reference, a place that always exists and never changes: with parents that are still just as you left them. A little older, but with the same hearts. I decided to vist my grandparents and we drank water by their pool. I remembered all of the undwater adventures I had in there. I swore I was a mermaid once; yes my feet turned to fins. I would swim with my legs bound together and twirl about the water like young girls in ballet tutus do.
There were four women of different generations. A woman in her 80’s her 70’s, her 40’s and her 20’s and we were all united at the round table. All of us had walked beaten paths: One working a minimum wage job in Alaska, another a personal masseuse for a billionaire traveling the world, another road tripping in the dessert with her husband and two dogs, and me, a drifter who landed in Portland, Oregon.
I spent the day loading my car up with things to take back. Things I had let wait in storage, aka my parent’s garage. My dog was tethered to the front lamp post and we enjoyed listening to old songs in the sun on the driveway. At one point he hopped in my car, the leash tightened and barely allowing him to do so. I laughed and smiled the way a father might at his daughter when she tries to stand up on her feet for the first time and falls on her diaper cushion tush.
The next day I took to the road again. This time it would be a 12 hour straight shot. What a long trajectory to stay on. Thank god cars have cruise control, if only I had that for life. Ah yes, I would like to be at this destination by this time going at the rate of speed… request granted. But life doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you get a rock in your break pad, and the awful sound makes you think you’ll explode. And then as you are pulled over on the side of the road you think about your mother’s boss who continues to live in Israel where she receives a 30 seconds bomb warning daily. 30 seconds to get into a shelter and she’s lucky. Some only have 10 seconds. A women many of you know, said “love is a battlefield.” I think that’s limited, life is. If I could respond to her song, I’d write one that said : “life is a battlefield, love is the bomb shelter.”
I am back in Portland now, writing from my writing desk. With a laptop of course, we don’t use real writing desks these days, with a quill and ink. I always seem to be inspired to write after a period of solitude. I tend to want to verbally share experience or write about it and let it be discovered on its own. But somethings are left private, for my own pleasure and enjoyment. It reminds me to live again not for others, but for me. Oh don’t you wish you knew what those little pleasures were? Instead of sharing, I will ask you to do this: Go out and find some of your own and hold tight to them. They might be that photograph you hold when the world caves in and you are huddled in a bomb shelter questioning life and the very nature of it.