continued from part I
We woke early the next day – fortunately with all limbs attached – and headed out immediately to cover the second half of road to Texas, car eating up the miles as we sped down deserted highways. We were near to embarking on the part of our trip that, for me, would be a series of uncharted cities; some I never thought I’d have any reason to visit in my lifetime.
Austin was one such city.
We arrived late in the afternoon, after a pit stop at an Amish grocery in Oklahoma for an in-car picnic lunch of chive-and-garlic cheese on crackers, and unpacked at N’s apartment in north Austin. It was the first time in seven months I’d seen her – the longest we’d gone without physical contact in the 14 years I’ve known her – and we spent the evening catching up over dinner about her second semester as a first-year PhD student, my cousin’s wedding and my last few weeks in DC, L’s Fulbright in Mexico. I felt that peculiar sense of sadness again then, nostalgia for the simplicity of school life and anxiety about an uncertain future. It passed quickly, though, when N took us out to a favorite bar for the night and we arrived back late and fell into exhausted, dreamless sleep.
I hated long car rides as a child. To be fair, I was an ornery child and found fault with a lot of things, but long car rides were high on the list. (The only time I grew to bear them was after we bought a minivan with a pull-down TV for me to hook the Nintendo to.) I also loved to argue as a child. Especially with my parents, about anything and everything. (The reason for which dad is still convinced that I was born to be a lawyer, a point that, incidentally, I continue to argue with him about to this day.)
In short, I was a menace on family road trips. That was difficult for all involved, as dad loved taking us on road trips when we were kids. Though, I realized later that it was not so much the ‘taking us’ as it was the driving itself.
I was born to argue against him on law school; he was born to lose himself on the road.
It’s ironic then that as I’ve grown older, I’ve grown to love the road. Trains, buses, cars. All bring with them a sense of inner peace and comfort in anonymity, watching the world with fingers pressed to the glass without thought of being watched in return. I love driving, especially. I forgot how much, too, after living in the city with my car parked at mum-and-dad’s a hundred miles away.
So when L suggested that we take a summer road trip upon her return from Mexico – during one of our many gchat dates a few months ago – it took little convincing to get me to agree. (Dad would’ve been proud.) An epic trip, we decided, since it would be the last bout of free time either of us would see in a summer. Three weeks, from Canada to the border of Mexico, stopping for barbecue and old friends along the way.