Eight days, nine states, four thousand miles. Countless bathroom breaks. Countless “absolutely never driving through Texas again” comments. Countless coffees. But we made it home.
Seghs, driving companion extraordinaire, landed on a Friday afternoon, documented here. I slept about two hours that night, too excited about leaving. I finally nudged her awake at 9am and said “Everything is ready. Can we leave in ten minutes?”
We headed to Bonaventure Cemetery (one of my fav places ever) before heading to my Dad’s for a goodbye dinner. The next day, we drove through a legitimate hurricane situation, where it actually rained inside our car. Seghs took it like a rockstar and I double-fisted puffy Cheetos to keep from screaming. We spent St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans, taking far too many pictures of buildings that no one but ourselves will ever care to see.
We loved the hundreds of turtles and the easy blue of the River Walk in Austin, and pronounced everything about the city “cute,” especially my coffee, which was made with something called “moon milk.” We visited the state capitol building of Texas, wondering if there was anyone important around with some office hours so we could give them a piece of our mind. I ate alligator, and tried to avoid french fries (Lent), and actively searched and consumed as much local beer as possible.
I met up with old friends and got some food for my soul. It is an amazing thing to see someone you haven’t seen in over ten years, feeling a little nervous at first, and then two hours go by like two minutes and you cry when you drive away.
It was incredible to see my friend Annie and her husband just doing AWESOME things with their film production and she spit some truth into my life about purpose and dreams and going after something with your whole heart.
Our final night was spent at Spring Training in Arizona, watching the Giants play the A’s. Ron Wotus gave me a baseball and I will never be the same again. It was a beautiful night for a win (sorry, Jess!) and then we raced across the border to make the last day shorter.
I felt a physical burden lift from me as we drove up the 5, stopping at a familiar In-N-Out burger for my first official California meal. Did you know that being able to turn GPS off your phone for the first time in seven months, because you are now familiar with your surroundings, can sometimes bring you to tears? It’s science.
We learned a lot about Murica on our trip. Saw many cemeteries, which I have a totally normal obsession with. We interacted with a lot of friendly people, and a lot of butthead drivers. But we did have several redeeming moments, seeing a few of the buttheads pulled over later. We learned we are both really weird without caffeine. And that the music on my iPod is so magical, Seghs made a preemptive claim on it when I die. And I might say “bro” too much.
We chased sunsets all the way home. I cried pulling into my mom’s driveway.
I’ve been recovering from the physical exhaustion of the move and the drive, and the emotional ride of the last seven months. I am around family and friends again (though missing a few back down South!). It has been helpful to talk out loud about some of the things that happened; what I felt, what I learned, what I still wonder. It has been helpful to see old friends, to eat Mexican food and Zachary’s pizza, to sleep in without my ambiguously strange roommate making love to his cat outside my door every morning at 6am.
I stopped by my old school today, a spontaneous trip, and was tackled to the ground by a wall of junior highers excited to see me. We laughed and cried. I wondered at how tall a person can get in such a short time and silently marveled at the braces and acne. After hugging all of them, including some I was very surprised to find running into my arms, I was informed that the school was in the middle of a lice epidemic.
My scalp itches with phantom bugs, but my heart is very full. It was a morale boost to know that my absence had been felt so keenly in their tiny hearts. For so much of the last few months I felt alone and unworthy of notice, but there is something profound and tangible in children whispering “I missed you every day” into your ear and hugging you so hard you smell their PE sweat. God was reminding me that I belong in a classroom, hanging out with kids, educating the youth through a stand up comedy routine sprinkled with facts.
There are many people who have been supportive and beyond through the last months. Even when I rejected it. My family, Seghs, Traci/Ry/Krystal and our daily ugly selfies and poop jokes, the Sullivans, Julie, Dar, Shannon, Leana, Caitlin, Michael, Brian, Andrea, Cindy Goga, Courtney, Wendy, April, Katie, everyone at Hope Center who I felt was cheering for Seghs and I every mile along our journey home. Dozens of random people who read my blogs and took the time to send a message of encouragement.
I want to thank books. And music. And hiking. And wine. And my fireplace. And the internet. I want to thank snow, for being there for the first time in my life and making me feel magical.
I want to thank my blog – you let me talk about things. You brought people to me.
And yeah, I want to thank God. I blamed you, I hated you, I forgot you. But you have never forgotten me. Like the sun behind clouds, you were always there, even if I couldn’t feel you or see you.
And now? Now things are looking up.
RIP “Visit Me in Durham” Video.