Reminiscence

I went looking for a photo prompt at Morguefile and found this, which reminded me of something I did once.

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I drove from New Orleans to Edmonton and back when I was twenty-one. It was a totes awesome trip.

I took three days to get there, including an afternoon stop in Baraboo, Wisconsin to meet a couple of internet friends. I was tickled pink when I stopped at a gas station in Baraboo and I finally got to hear a Wisconsin accent. I’m sure the clerk was just as tickled by my Cajun accent.

I drove across the US/Canadian border on a small highway from North Dakota. I didn’t have to wait in line or get out of my car or even have a passport.

I used the tiny inside dial on my speedometer that measures kilometers, and bought my gas by the liter.

I remember watching the glow in the sky grow larger and larger until finally I crested the last hill and I could see Edmonton, bigger and brighter than anywhere I’d ever been by myself. It was so much more than this photo.

And I have to think how much time I would actually spend going through the photos I took of my trip if I’d had a smart phone. It would be nice to have actual photographs of the people I met instead of sketches and faded memories. Photos of the places I saw and the adventures I had.

Then again, it’s pretty cool this way, too.

And I don’t really look at the pictures on my phone that often anyway.


Rose Colored Radford

In the late nineties, I took a lot of road trips. I mean, a lot of road trips. One was to Radford, Virginia.

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I don’t remember it like this photo; I didn’t do anything touristy while I was there at all.

I went to visit my friend from mIRC. He was older than I was then, but younger than I am now: an interesting thing to think about. He seemed to know everything. Not everything in a book sense, everything in a practical sense. He knew how the world worked.

I looked up to him. I admired him. I possibly hero-worshipped him. I probably hero-worshipped him.

Anyway, he said that I could come visit him. So I was like, cool. Let’s do this.

I threw some clothes in the back of my car and hit the road. It was a long trip, but the leaves were just beginning to turn, and it was gorgeous scenery. And the gas was super cheap in Georgia. Less than eighty cents a gallon.

I failed to dodge a possum crossing the road. It was the first time that I hit something warm-blooded with my car. I cried.

I remember when I finally got to Virginia there were so many signs telling me that radar detectors were illegal. It didn’t matter; I’ve never had one. It seemed terribly unfair, though. It had never crossed my mind before that they might be illegal anywhere, let alone in the United States of America, the greatest country in the world.

Remind me sometime to write about the brainwashing to which we subject our children in this country.

Those signs were a slap in the face for me, the first in a series. It’s a challenge to overcome a lifetime of learning, but this was one of the very first times I was out in the great wide world all by my lonesome, far away from home.

But I finally made it, and when I pulled up in front of his house, I was floored. It was huge. Gigantic. Stupendous. Honestly, it probably wasn’t all that big, but I didn’t have any friends who lived on their own in a real house any bigger than a thousand square feet, and here was this two-story monstrosity with one single person living in it.

I was impressed.

I was pretty excited to meet him. But–and I should have seen this coming, since we hung out in the #depressed room on mIRC–he was so sad. Trust me, we can smell our own.

We did a quick lap around the house, and he showed me the room upstairs where I was going to sleep, since I’d driven straight through and was exhausted.

If I had to choose one room from all the rooms I’ve ever been in to spend the rest of my life, to spend eternity, it would be this room. I am not the nerdy teenaged bookworm that I once was, but that girl is still inside me, and her love for that room is still tremendous.

It was a mess, I’ll give you that, but it was the best kind of mess: a mess of books. I slept on the couch in the middle of the room, surrounded by teetering towers of books that I’d never read. Books that I’d never heard of. There were books on the floor and books on the end table. There were books in boxes and books in bags.

I immediately felt at home. I slept wonderfully.

I spent three days there, but I don’t remember much of what we did.

I remember that I cleaned the kitchen.

I remember that we went to the DMV because he had to renew his license. I was impressed with the technology there; heck, our DMV is still a completely disorganized circle of Hell, twenty years later. We went today, and it was closed for server issues. I also learned that some states don’t charge for vanity plates. He had one; it was his mIRC screen name, most of the vowels removed.

And I remember that we went to his ex-girlfriend’s house.

Everyone has that ex. The one that screwed up your life. Or the one for whom you screwed up your own life for love of them. She was his. And they still hung out, because he wasn’t over her.

She had roommates, other friends of theirs. They smoked some pot, and I declined.

There was this weird vibe that I didn’t understand at the time. It was months before I did understand, because that’s when he sent me a copy of his autobiography, and I found out that she was that girl.

And even reading what he’d written, and witnessing them interact, I went on to make the same mistake. Find someone, the wrong someone, waste time with them, lose them, pine over them, get them back, wise up, ditch them for good. That’s how my story went. I’m luckier than some.

I went to visit him again a few months later, maybe a year and a half. He’d moved to another state, a little closer this time, but still hundreds of miles away. He was better then. Happier. And closer to being over her. I was glad to see that.

I don’t remember who disappeared first, him or me. But it was perfectly in character for both of us. No goodbyes, just a never heard from again kind of ending.

He was secretive where I was open, but I did learn his real name. I’m afraid to look him up, though, because of Jeremy. I’m not so sure that I could find him anyway. He wouldn’t have a Facebook. Unless he’s changed so much I wouldn’t recognize him, in which case, I think we’d both rather I remember him this way.

Through the rose-colored glasses of memory.


Mega Road Tripping

And Ian again:

Describe your perfect road trip for us. Where would we go? What would we do? What kind of car would you like to do it in? And how long would it be?

Let’s just take a moment here to pull that third question out of context and have a good old lascivious giggle at it.

Now that that’s out of our systems, we’ll move on.

Oh Em Gee. Y’all, I adore a good road trip. Especially now that we can actually take a road trip without trying to kill each other. Remember Virginia 2010? Bad timing for that one.

But the perfect road trip? That’s like a bartender’s quest for the perfect martini. A makeup artist’s quest for the perfect foundation. A writer’s quest for the perfect turn of phrase!

I’ll tone it down.

The last question is the easiest to answer–forever, of course. Yes, seriously, forever. Let us be nomads, my love! Let us wander the earth in search of the perfect road trip! Let the ever escalating costs of neither fuel nor tires never stand between us and our dreams of the open road!

I forgot to tone it down, my bad.

While forever would be nice, a solid year would be acceptable. You did say perfect, remember?

We would start by going west. We’ve been east to the ocean, we’ve been south to the Gulf, and we’ve been north a bit. We haven’t been west together.

We could head a smidgen north to Oklahoma for a visit, and to hit up that safari zoo I went to when I was a kid. And we could have a look at Chickasha to see if I recognize anything. Then west to the high point.

I suppose we could north it up a little more to visit family in Aurora. And we’ll have to stop and meet Lori. Suffer through a Mesa Verde tour and the soreness the following day. Nothing like some cliff dwellings to make your legs ache!

Then south to Four Corners because you’d like that. Do some hiking, see if the Mystery Spot is still around.

More west to California and the other ocean! We can see the Winchester Mystery House because it’s awesome. Maybe we could meet some more bloggers, like jjiraffe. And even do some trail magic on the PCT!

We could continue up the west coast, do a little exploring in Alaska, then through Yukon, BC, and into the NWT to hit Yellowknife. South again, through Alberta and Saskatchewan. We could dip a little further south for a stop at the Tridge in Midland, Michigan, then Niagara Falls, then up to Maine.

Then take our time down the +east coast, throw in a trip to Disney World. West again, pass through home and see if we’ve missed anything cool.

On to Laredo to the Pan-American Highway. Then we could just follow that on south and make our way to and through South America.

The kind of car would probably be pretty important on a trip like this. I’d let you handle that part. I don’t care, as long as it’s comfortable.

So, what does everybody think of this trip? We’d probably have to finish it up with a plane ride to another continent to rent a car and do the same thing there. Sounds fun, right?