We said “goodnight” at 12am and set alarms for 4am. She texted from the couch at 1:30 “I can’t sleep, lets just go for it.” But I had somehow fallen into a delirious panic nap and we did get up at 4am and struggle into my overloaded Toyota Corolla and somehow my mom and I drove over 900 miles that day; through deserts, through Barstow, past tractors, into drive-thrus.
We made it all the way to the surprisingly beautiful northern New Mexico, chased by a big rig through a lightening storm that threatened to send me careening across the indeterminable-depths of rain puddles, lace fingers of electricity going horizontal and vertical across the biggest sky I’d ever seen. The thunder shook the cartop carrier and through the scrapes in the doors left from the time my step-sister reversed against my car. We bagged mustard samples from gas stations and ate “sandwiches” in the car, fueled by espresso cans and the ultimate playlist and pure, pure adrenaline.
Day two was another aggressive 900 miles, stopping in Oklahoma, maybe? It all becomes a blur. I started to notice that people were just nicer. Conservative as hell, with some very scary billboards, but really wanted to make sure I was okay, as I entered their bathroom for the third time in five minutes, after testing that I was indeed lactose intolerant. Discovered through scientific testing. (I ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s). I wanted to buy every “Patriot” doo-rag I saw.
In Arkansas we stumbled upon a Love’s travel stop that had apparently experienced a locust outbreak. The ground was covered with exoskeletons of scary winged creatures and before I could predict the frogs and blood baths that would soon hit, we sped towards Nashville.
In Nashville we found barbecue, beers, boys in ripped jeans who pulled us from tables and made us dance. We also had a waitress who was from Benicia, who I went to college with at UCSB, and we majored in the same things and were basically soul mates who hadn’t met yet. We crawled late-night into the hotel and ate Cheetos.
Day Four – seven hours to go. The Smokies. The flowers. The winding roads. The accents got thicker, the signs show cities I will need to know…Asheville, Raleigh, Cary, Durham!
2800 miles. $400 in gas, $350 in hotels. Only one time that we headed West towards the dark night instead of towards the sunrise, like we needed to.
Four days with mom, an iPod, a cooler.
But we made it here!
And I found a place. And I like this place. More to come.
In case you missed it…. here’s why I’m here!