I took a nice long road trip last week. I went alone and I did what I wanted, when I wanted. This trip was for me. That’s a powerful thing.
I could rattle off cliches about how we could all use a break or about why we ought to make a bit of time for ourselves, but I think it can go a lot deeper than that. I think taking time away from everything that is familiar and asking yourself what you want, following those desires moment by moment, can be transformative.
I drove out to Boulder, Colorado and challenged myself to enter those beautiful Rockies with my somewhat uncertain Taurus. I slowed down, got scared, said “fuck off” to a million more able drivers…and I did it. I saw the Rockies. I listened to what I wanted. When I first saw them looming in the distance, I started to cry a little. I was overtired and they were so lovely.
And sometimes there was genuine sadness. Driving down lonesome roads in Nebraska, I found myself sobbing as I listened to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt,” a song so honest it cuts me down to my soul.
Other times, I felt myself so full of joy. I hugged a bulldog that followed me around and felt like this was everything. At least for a moment.
I saw the places I belonged and the ones where I didn’t. I was greeted by uncomfortable stares from men in Kansas every time I stopped for gas, food, etc. Their eyes looked harshly at my tattoos, my piercing, my lack of fucks given. They tried to burn me with the obscene gaze of lust and hate. I ignored them, unafraid. This, I thought, is who I am. This is always who I am. Forever. And I won’t give you my fear. I don’t have any to give.
I can tell you that I saw things there that jolted sharp memories of other parts of my life, moments when I texted friends things that they likely didn’t want to hear. I can tell you that I was alive to my truths, both lovely and ugly.
My current life is so small. It could be different. It still may be. I looked into those mountains and I felt at home. There were tourists from South Carolina staying a door or two down. They asked for ideas, itineraries, a sort of pure breed of tourism. But I sank in. I absorbed. I touched flowers in neighborhood gardens, chatted with random people about their lives. I drank coffee and sat around.
Ultimately, everything I do is what I have chosen to do. Even in work, I could so easily just walk away if I chose to leave. No one tells me what to do. Only myself. It was only ever me.
I am just learning that this is true.