Before sharing my day-to-day stuff, I think I need to write about the stuff that happened in the last month in order to catch up to the present. I would hate myself if I didn’t start from the beginning. It is also possible the most interesting stuff already happened, or more likely, I will give up rather soon on this blog effort so I better give it my all now so I have at least more than one entry to show for my I-think-a-blog-is-a-good-idea initiative. So, here we go.
“You’re driving to Nashville all by yourself? Are you sure you can’t find anyone to go with you?” – 90% of anyone who learned of my solo trek
“Yes, you jerk. Please do not project your fears onto me. This is my journey, not yours. And where all these people that don’t have a job or obligations for an entire week that also wouldn’t mind spending thirty hours in a car with me over the course of three days? Are you that person? Probably not. Think before you speak and be rational.” – Me, in my head, as I politely nodded and listened almost every single person who reacted to me sharing of my soon-to-take-place cross-country drive.
“Yep! I have my iTunes playlists, audiobooks, podcasts, and when I get really bored, any family member on the phone who will stay on the phone with me as long as I need, even if we’re not saying a word, to help me stay awake during those hours when I’m ready to fall asleep. Every road leads to McDonalds, and also a Starbucks, so I’ll have plenty of snacks and cups of coffee to keep me going. I’ll be fine!” – Me, saying out loud, while restraining my actual thoughts, what I felt the other person needed to hear in order to feel at peace about something in which I felt completely relaxed and confident in.
Driving from California to Nashville, Tennessee by yourself does suck. I don’t think it would have sucked any less if I had company, but I don’t really know because I don’t have that kind of experience for which to compare my own. I was blessed to have a brand-new car with a working air conditioner and iPod hookup, so that was nice. Hours upon hours on the road, however, was not so nice. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world but it certainly wasn’t the best. There are very few highlights from the trip. Here they are, broken down by state.
California is the best. I guess it isn’t the very best,though, because I left. I stopped in Barstow for some Starbucks and a McMuffin and just kept driving until the state border where I filled up at $4 a gallon for gas (way to take advantage, only gas station in a billion mile radius).
It is straight-up desert in Arizona. This was another fine state I stopped in for gas and McDonald’s, only this time, it was $3.50 a gallon and I had McNuggets. I showed an old man in line the local traffic on my Maps app, and he was so blown away, he had to rush to get his wife to show her how people can look at a map right the palm f their hand, on a phone! It was an adorable interaction and was the highlight of the eternally long morning part of my day.
New Mexico is desert that looks different than Arizona desert. By this point (1o hours in), I wanted to be done but still had a long ways to go. My college roommate happened to be in Albuquerque that day and we met up for some Starbucks. She brought me a burrito. We chatted for a good hour or so. It was a nice break, but after sitting in a cozy coffee shop chair, the last thing I wanted to do was get back on the road. And when I did get back on the road, it got dark fast, rain started to pour down like I had never seen before, it was pitch black, and I thought I was going to die. I called my dad to keep me company, and also to talk to him in case I was in fact on the road to my death. Since I am writing this blog now, it’s obvious I survived. Thank God.
Texas was kind of cool. I think it was cool, though, because I drove through that little tiny tip part of the big-ass state so my stay was brief. Texas greatness was due to its uneventfulness. My hotel was also located there, in Amarillo, and had a bed where I could sleep after driving from 4am until midnight that day.
Oklahoma had these massive windmills (unless it was Texas, maybe it was both?) that seemed to reach the heavens and beyond. The grassy fields were unique and something I had never seen before. It was morning and peaceful as I drove, cup of Starbucks in hand. I have a great friend who is originally from Oklahoma City, so I had high expectations for the city. I’m not sure what compelled me to pull off on the particular exit I chose, but I wish I would’ve just kept driving. Church’s Chicken was there, and had a bathroom, and deep-fried food, so I went for it. What did it also have? Flies everywhere, a disaster of a dining room, and a toothless lady in a hair net at the register. I figured that the hot oil could fry out any diseases that might be in the restaurant. I hope I was right. I should probably see a doctor. The gas station wasn’t much better. It was so bad, in fact, that I drove to a different station where I had less of a chance of being stabbed in broad daylight. I texted my former-Oklahoma-resident friend for a recommendation on a local treat and I grabbed some ice cream at a sterile ice cream parlor, which gives me hope that my first impression of the state/city, that was less than OK, may have been a wrong one.
Good God, Arkansas is not my scene. Arkansas could use some work on their first impressions. Driving across that border entered me into a foreign world that I had only seen portrayed on television. I do not wish to speak poorly of Arkansas as I am sure there are many great things about that state, and am confident many wonderful people live there (I got family there!). I, however, did not have enough time to see its greatness because I sped like hell to get out of there as soon as possible (both because I was on a mission – #NashvilleBound – and I hated everything about it) as the vibes were just not resonating with my style. Cars, as in multipe, were held together on the road with bungee cords and duct tape. Is that even legal? I stopped at a CrossFit gym where a member felt it okay to roll the 45# plates into the clip bucket, thereby breaking the bucket, and then repeat this action several times while hollering across the gym to the coaches to inform them that they needed to buy new buckets because he broke another one. Did he think he was at a bowling alley? Dead bugs covered – I mean COVERED – entire parking lots of gas stations (I went to three before finding one that wasn’t swarming with bugs eating the dead bugs off the pavement. Have you never heard of a water hose, gas station owners? Wash your lots down!). I was in Arkansas for what felt like forever and I hope to never, ever – like, ever…Taylor Swift status – go there ever, ever again. I was on the road there for way too long, a road that was lined the entire way with billboards that contained only three messages:
- Make America Great Again #Trump2016
- Jesus is the Way
- XXX Show Next Exit
I guess a state that offers Sunday service next to a strip club is one of the many things that makes America great.
I cheered when I saw the “Welcome to Tennessee” sign. I did this at every welcoming state sign but his one came from the deepest part of me, and it was louder (at least in spirit). I tried to squeeze out some tears of joy but they didn’t come. I felt like that scene in The Holiday when Cameron Diaz is sitting at a desk trying to conjure up even the littlest teardrop. I had made it to Memphis! Memphis was bomb.com. I picked a really good hotel that was only a block away from Beale Street. I was barely awake but I made an effort to take in a little bit of the awesomeness of the city while I was there. I had a Moscow mule in the 500-degree and 1,000% humidity that was served to me by a bar tender who was higher than a kite. Homeless men hollered at me as I walked down the single pitch-black road from the restaurant to my hotel and stirred fear in my heart more than I knew possible, and yet I texted my mom that I was safe and happy (sometimes you just have to speak/text that kind of stuff into existence, bad guys can smell fear), shoulders back and raised to give the shadowy illusion I was eight-foot tall. I passed out in my comfortable bed and way overslept and it was totally worth it. I knew my bed wouldn’t make it to my new apartment for about five days from that point so I soaked in all the pillowy coziness while I could.
I did cry when I saw the cityscape that afternoon, after the short 3 1/2 hour drive from Memphis. Was it joy? Exhaustion? Fear? Yep. I was so ready to get the keys to my apartment and be done with the seemingly-infinite moving process. My apartment, the place I’d only seen online, turned out to be a decent selection. I signed documents, slept on the floor for a week, spent more than I knew I could (and definitely more than I wanted) on Amazon and at Target so I could have stuff like furniture and toilet paper, and began my new life in Tennessee.