I’m not sure how well either of us slept last night, despite knowing we had a ten hour drive ahead to tackle come morning. A drive, I should mention, we planned on doing without using a map. For the first time in over two months, we don’t need to be dependent on following a route, following lines, and staying true to a course. Today, we know exactly where to go: toward that lighthouse beacon known informally as “home.”
Megs and I are quiet. Well, first, we are us: loading the car, making sure everything is just so, getting coffee. Once in the car though, we fall into silence. Our quiet moments have become comfortable in the past few months. Instead of waiting with bated breath to see if the silence means anything, we’re accustomed to lulls in conversation meaning nothing. But today the lack of words seems to symbolize something else: the unspoken knowing that pretty soon, we’ll be out of each other’s sight for more than the length of a workout? The uncertainty of what actually comes next? All that is clear is silence exists, and we turn on Dan Savage to fill our ears.
Angie and Mala are with us, their own little rental car full of the sounds of Of Monsters and Men and the easy banter of best friends. Between the four of us, we probably all nap twice each throughout the day. At the California line we stop for one last time to film crossing state borders. Photos are taken as big-rigs flash by, honking at us because surely we’re a sight: girls, slightly dressed up, standing in the dirt with cameras. All in a day’s work for us, but for them, we’re an anomaly.
Without even trying, we are on the right track. I can’t help but wonder what to do with my hands, my heart, my mind. There’s no need to plan a date. There’s no need to triple-check GPS. A mosquito gnaws on me as I wonder about what’s to come. When did he hitch a ride with us? Was it Vegas? Before LV? Sometime after?
Every time we stop, the license plates surrounding Huckleberry Fit in parking lots all say “California.” The familiarity is unfamiliar, and increasingly confusing my senses. At gas stations, no one asks us where we are going to or coming from. According to our plates, our accents, and our style, we are home. Although what that actually means has yet to be determined.
After passing through the Livermore Valley with the elegant windmills whirring away, familiar radio stations start to pull through. Here comes the mall I whiled away hours of my teenage years at, wondering if boys would pick me up. Here comes the coffee shop an ex and I surprised my mom at by walking in to tell her we had moved back to the Bay Area. Memories of boys are astoundingly clear in the moment, and though I shake my head and try to recall other things – there’s the creek we once walked through and were chased by chickens in – I’m instead lost in remembrances of dating.
Will driving the country always be like this from now on? A history of dates being the backbone of my nostalgia from Oregon to Maryland, Kentucky to Utah?
Though the familiarity is overwhelming, there is still one more unfamiliar thing to see to. First though, it’s time to say hello to Noah.