I never stepped foot onto a plane until I was 21. I kid you not. I flew first class to Las Vegas with my best friend. It was a new and exciting experience for me and I learned that traveling could be quick, efficient and wondrous all at the same time.
My family would take to the road when we traveled. At a young age I learned that driving in the car with mom and dad was just the way things were done. I spent my childhood visiting the western states and Canada including the many towns and tourist traps along the way. I learned to count the dotted white and yellow lines on the highways during the day and the reflectors on the roadside at night. I was keen on watching for the mile markers because their number dictated how much longer we would have on the road.
Truth be told, even with all of the times I have been on an airplane since the Las Vegas trip of ’92, I still love to road trip. Not only do I love it, but it seems to be something that is part of my genetic makeup: the blacktop never stops calling to me. I find the need to drive as often as possible, either by myself or with whoever wants to tag along, gladly heading whatever direction is offered. Just as the freeways and highways of the U.S. are the veins of the nation, so a gypsy’s blood feeds my heart and flows through my mind. I have a never-ending case of wanderlust. I look forward to the driving itself just as much as I do reaching the destination.
I want to travel the roads of North America. I want to drive Route 66 in a convertible and drive along highway 1 from North to South. Forget Europe. I won’t be satiated until I have driven across the plains of the mid-west and the spanning bridges of the northwest. I dream of traveling across the hills of the northeast during autumn and of venturing south to see the lush bayous and the immense Gulf of Mexico. Traveling the backroads and byways of the country is what I want to do. Driving those roads is how the untold stories of people and places come alive. The things never seen or heard or experienced can blossom on country roads and “off the beaten path” routes. Those are the things I want to be a part of because I experience that kind of awakening in myself when I turn that key and start the wheels turning.
Driving is a way I process my thoughts and ideas. My brain is a movie and the humming of the wind across the windows is my soundtrack. As I travel 80 miles per hour down the freeway, I am able to catch up with myself and finally take a moment to analyze where I stand firm and where I am crumbling. Something about the monotony of a long stretch of road enables me to open up my Pandora’s Box of thoughts and problems and I can attempt to solve life’s mysteries.
The most intimate and important conversations I have ever had were in the confines of my car. Talks in the car with my husband, my children, sister, parents, best friends, and other traveling companions have a way of bringing out truth in conversation. It’s easier for me to be a little braver, a little more unrestrained than normal and a little more inquisitive because I have a captive audience.
Talks with myself as I have driven and driven to who-knows where have been both torturous and blessed. I can even proclaim that the best–the very best–conversations I have had with God have been in the car…eyes open, arms unfolded, head erect. Maybe it seems irreverent talking this way, but I have felt Him every time I have called on Him and I don’t know that he cares so much HOW I am conversing with Him as much as he does that I simply AM conversing with Him. Heading down the road, just He and I, I have poured myself out of the very deepest and darkest corners of my hidden soul for Him to see and hear. When I reach my destination, I know He loves me just as much as He did before we stepped into my automobile and I feel closer to Him than I did when sensed the click of my seatbelt.
I have even had conversations out loud in my car with people who aren’t with me. I’ve told some people EXACTLY what I think of them and pled with a broken heart for others to forgive me with only empty seats as an audience around me. Yes, it takes a minute to find my voice and then another to stop it from shaking but I do it because it helps me feel stronger and more empowered in situations where I may be entirely powerless. I lose inner fear and find outward force on the open road.
When I drive, I drive to lose myself. Somewhere along the way I see myself and there are many times I don’t recognize who I am. Still, I greet me and pick myself up like a lonely hitchhiker who needs a friend and it is then I am found again.
I drive to lose myself. I drive to be found.