I've gone on many road trips in my lifetime. In part, it's because I'm from a working class family who couldn't afford airfare. I didn't fly on a plane until I was 16, and that was by myself to visit an aunt. I didn't fly again until after I graduated from college. My father has only flown five times in his life, four of which have been to visit me in the Midwest. On my road trips, I've travelled the entirety of Interstate-5 from Vancouver BC to Mexico. I've travelled much of Hwy 101, Hwy 1, I-44, I-40, I-80, I-35, and Route 66. I've been to 16 of the 22 contiguous states west of the Mississippi.
For me, road trips almost always represent a big life change. My favorite was a trip my father and I took to Reno, NV in August of 2001 to witness the burial of my grandmother. It happened on the same weekend my Terrible, Horrible, No Good ex-boyfriend would be moving out of my house. I envisioned myself as a brave warrior entering the desert to burn pieces of a past only to rise again like some kind of Phoenix. Dad and I watched grandma's ashes buried next to her husband's, mother's, mother-in-law's, father-in-law's, and grandmother's graves. We stayed at Motel 6 and played mini-golf in the sun. I took photos of the strip to add to my "Cheesie Sign" collection. On our way back, we passed small towns peopled by smoke-stained fire fighters taking a pause from the summer of forest fires. Sunburned and tired, I happily returned to a house which housed my half of the furniture, my half of the dishes, and no ex-boyfriend.
The most recent road trip was no exception. I went to Texas to watch some friends get married and to meet the boyfriend's parents. The wedding was beautiful and the reception was something of a mini-reunion for all the folks who attended graduate school with the new couple. The parents were very gracious and welcoming, especially the mother who quickly eliminated all my fears with her casual jokes about embarassing baby photos of the boyfriend. I returned to the Midwest with the boyfriend via car chatting about the recent visit, Pressburger relations, politics, and other verbal attempts at trying to figure out how the world works.
I've returned from the South as I'd once returned from the desert. This time, all my furniture is intact, but I'm ready to get back to the adventure of grad school.