It’s been almost 4 months now, but I recently had an epic adventure across the country. The trip was rather unexpected and partially panic induced due to ever changing and yet…still exactly the same…family dynamics over which I have no control. Although all around stressful it was necessary and let to some pretty fantastic personal insights, without which I’d be less of myself and missing some of my own mark.
Early on a Saturday I flew to the East Coast, unbeknownst to me meeting the midAtlantic with missed connections, canceled flights, and delayed departures…I made it to Richmond about 5 hours late, a factor heavy with potential for my own inner tailspin and outward demise, but one I chose to embrace as if it had a purpose of its own…and as I reflect I think it actually did.
I had the entire adventure planned out. Arrive in Richmond on Saturday afternoon, pick up moving truck, pack it with everything I left in Virginia when I moved back to Arizona, and leave Virginia Sunday morning in order to make it back to work on Wednesday. That was the psychotic planning of an individual teetering on mania.
Let me rewind a minute. The day I left the arid Southwest for the Humid Southeast, February 24, was the same day as a special friend’s babyshower – one that I’d sort of planned with her and was gonna miss. A week before setting out, my new roommate to be and I had found the sweet apartment we would move into days after my intended return to the desert. And on top of that a myriad of uncomfortable interpersonal, relational dramas had popped up and to say as little about the entire thing as possible, I was pretty much a basketcase from the get-go.
So sitting in the Philadelphia airport without the freedom to explore the city I’ve never yet seen, I relaxed into the possibility that I really needed to chill the f out and let this whole thing unwind on its own terms.Which is what I did. Still stressful? Of course. But less psychotic? Definitely.
Ok to make a long story short, I stayed up super late catching up with one of my best friends and the next day he along with my brother and mom and me loaded up the truck with my life’s treasures (including the most phenomenal Barbie collection I know of). Exhausted as I was I decided to leave the Old Dominion on Monday. Spending time with my little brother and getting to process hard stuff together is a priceless treasure of its own, made better by laughing over ridiculous stories and random things we discover in old boxes…He’s always the hardest to leave but he gives me so much strength that on an energetic level I really feel like he’s the older of us two.
So on Monday I head out. I leave just before 5 am. Goal: Johnson City Tennessee, to meet with one of my favorite vendors. This is a really big deal because my job is all inside sales. Not being on the Business Development team, most of my coworkers and I rarely get to meet our vendors. Getting to see their facility and learn a little about fabrication, plasma cutting, tube benders, and all the stuff that goes into building a race car was thrilling for each and every facet of my personality. I can’t express enough how important it is to get to meet your vendors and customers in person if you’re in any kind of sales gig. It transformed our relationship into a much more personal one, creating a shared goal of success for us both. Awesome all around.
Same night I made it to Nashville. I was kinda stoked and also way too tired for this city…I got an overly expensive hotel in the center of downtown, flirtatiously gathered recommendations from the desk clerk, and set out on foot for a brief urban adventure. There is absolutely no way I can enter a new city and not do this. No matter how tired, it’s like the cells of my body and the particles of my soul generate some brand new source of energy that refuses to let me not explore. I get high on checking thing out, even if they turn out to be not really my thing – the newness of it all makes my life what it is.
So Nashville. The main drag on Broadway was cool-ish. I think I’d have enjoyed Nashville more if a few things were different, like if I were with a big group of friends and drinking a lot of booze, or if I had a whole day to explore the architecture. All in all I’m glad I saw what I did, but it would require some pressing to get me to go back.
Day 2. OMG Tennessee seemed to last forever. I felt like I would never ever get out of Tennessee. I love the Appalachians in summer but in late winter before anything is green…OMG that’s pretty much all I can say. It was draining. Exhausting. Depressing. I have some old beef with the state that I finally got over, but holy cow getting into Arkansas the vibe changed for me more than a little bit.
There isn’t much to report on day 2. I drank an insane amount of coffee, had some epiphanies, and crossed into Oklahoma. This is where it got really good.
Unfortunately I don’t know much about Oklahoma…I’ve driven through it on cross country treks a couple of times, without much to report. But it’s where the landscape makes a drastic change. Arkansas was pretty different from most of Tennessee and Virignia, in that it was flat and wet with few trees. But in Oklahoma the land takes on more of an arid prarie type of scene. You start to feel like you’re really moving in a Westward direction.
So this is the point on the trip where I really relaxed. And as offensive as some of my readers may find this, my load really lightened dramatically once I felt myself getting further and further from Virginia. Not necessarily from anyone there, but from the past. From trauma and drama and present tense situations I have no control over. I felt my body release all the tension it had been storing just to bare down and get through the difficult parts of the trip. My mind opened up again and I could breath a little better. I felt less need to DO anything more than just experience every site and smell and scene and feeling and thought in the moment it arrived. As much as Virginia is my homeland I felt, the further into Oklahoma I drove, that I was finally going HOME.
This isn’t something I can take lightly.
I’ve been on a quest for home since I was 23. I slept in some town in OK and on Day 3 crossed into West Texas. Seriously my favorite part of the trip was the magical high plateau of West Texas. I’m talking tumble weeds and long horn cattle, canyons and rolling grasslands. Red rocks and gray rocks and mirages. PURE. MAGIC.
In all my kaleidoscopic travels around this big country, I’d never been through this part of the big ol’ state of Texas. I knew I’d be going through Amarillo and decided I really wanted to see some of the (super)natural beauty going on in the canyons there. I found my way down a long flat road – literally not a hill or mountain or mound in sight – and then at a state park whose name I reeeeeeeeally don’t want to share, because I’m so miserly with the lightly touched natural natural landscapes and power portals I discover. I guess I’ll leave it like this so that if you reeeeeeeeeally want to know where I went, you’re gonna have to dig in and find it, and that makes me feel better than making it super easy for you.
I’m so mean.
But have you ever noticed that the awe-inspiring natural places often lose some of their spiritual potency when shrouded in tourists? As frequently as I find myself a tourist in one place or another, you’d think I’d appreciate tourism and tourist-trade and the promotion of adventure, but honestly, I despise it. I despise people leaving a trace and not treading lightly. I don’t believe the national parks and monuments should be paved. I want it all natural and hard to get to because my optimism about the notion of people going outside leads to people caring, has always lived in a mild drought.
Well back to the story – I got high on rock formations and ravines and had the best cheeseburger in the world (seriously) before getting back into the Budget truck and rolling down the road. I didn’t really want to leave, but I knew it had to happen.
So at this point it’s like, noon on Wednesday. The smart thing to do would be drive about 5 more hours and stop in Santa Fe. I freakin ADORE Santa Fe so stopping there for the night has tons of appeal. I’ve got a favorite hotel, favorite restaurant, favorite grocery store, and favorite place to hang out there. I’ve got a friend in Albuquerque who would definitely put me up. As I get closer, I get amped up on my proximity to home, and so I keep going. By the time I’m in Albuquerque, there is no question about stopping. I want to make it back to Tempe.
So I drive. For a long freakin time. The sun goes down in New Mexico, and it’s maybe 10pm by the time I get into Arizona. Maybe it’s later. It was hard to keep my eyes open, but the liberation excited me. The freedom from the past made me weightless. I believe I could have flown.
In the North Eastern quadrant of the state, on a late February night, it’s cold. The coldest air I’d felt since living in Virginia 2 winters ago. Did I mention that the moon was full? I pulled over and walked out between the junipers and watched my breath float up into the star spangled sky. I breathed deeply the moonlit air and I think my soul opened up. I wasn’t even tripping on drugs but recalling the sensations, I’m surprised by that. Every nerve in my body was wide awake and every cell in me was every cell every where. I will never ever forget those few crystal clear moments.
Keep driving. Now on the Mogollon Rim, route 260, toward Payson. A foot of snow at the feet of Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs, and fog wisping around their crowns would give the impression off being inside a storybook in a land far, far away. The moons fullness illuminated more details than my eyes had ever before discerned.
Had some more epiphanies on this section of the trip, combined with the thrill of going back to a place I chose to return to, and the last little bit was pure blissed out magick. Past Payson I was in the rolling dessert mountains. By 1am I was nearly crawling up the steps to my apartment. Wide eyed from the adventure, too tired and too caffeinated to sleep, with not a clue as to how I should begin processing what had just transpired. No need, there was absolutely no time.
A few days later I was moved into a new apartment, with a new person I hardly knew, and all my literal baggage from my whole life. This was the first time since I first moved away from Virginia in 2006 that I had all of my possessions in my possession. Til the move I’d had parts and parcels strewn about. Bringing them all together helped me to create a newness for my life that was just mine. I made it. This life. I didn’t make me, but I made me, if you get what I’m saying…
So now it’s all over and I’m looking back at all the stuff that’s happened since that trip, and I’m like holy crap I’m always on a roller coaster. It took me way longer to heal and calm down than I’m proud to admit, and I literally had to miss work because I was nearly in a state of stress induced psychosis. That shit ain’t good, and it’s scary as FUCK.
What did I I learn from it all? Trust your instincts AND your intuition. Your instincts will guide you to do what will keep you physically safe, and your intuition will guide you in matters of the mind and soul. At least this is how I interpret the words. I had a visceral reaction that made all my plans for me. This reaction booked my flight, rented the truck, and called on the friend who would support me the way I needed in that time of crisis (?). I didn’t question it. I knew I had to go get my stuff and there was no time to think about it.
And you know what? My life is better for making that insanely quick, manic trip to the homeland to get my stuff and immediately come back and move. It wasn’t easy but I saw some incredible newness and met new parts of myself that had been hibernating. I found my strength and will and really saw from the perspective of an observer, just how much I CAN deal with when shit needs to be dealt with – and with a little bit of grace, no less.
So ladies and gents. Here’s the big advice. Listen to your body. It will tell you what to do. Pay close attention to the dramas and traumas and find your way out of them and into healthier ways of dealing with hard relationships and instability. Don’t have so much stuff that it has to live all over the country, or if you do, reclaim it all as soon as possible – it’s solidifying.
Aaaaaand! Always stay open to the adventure and magick in, well, every thing. Whether the mundane is full of magick is unquestionable – OF COURSE IT IS! That magick-ness is everywhere if you choose to look for it, if you want to see it, if you want to BE it. And for me at least, the best way to tap in to the endless stream is to do something challenging, especially in nature or on the road. Movement and nature are my church, as I’ve written about elsewhere. Just maybe you can find your own magick on some backroad somewhere, on your own way home.