Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If I Leave Here Tomorrow, Would You Still Remember Me?

It was raining in San Diego when I left this morning, barely misting my parents and I as the three of us loaded the remainder of my personal belongings into my Honda.

It took a mostly fruitless yard sale and several epic trips to the Good Will to scale down the magnitude of what I own to the bare minimum--and the result still barely fit into my car. But we got the doors to close, somehow, mostly thanks to my father's unfailing ingenuity, and now I don't have to worry about it again until I have to unpack everything.

I am not ashamed to admit that I cried like a small child as I hugged my parents goodbye. I climbed into my car and started the engine as they watched from the doorway, and I tried to smile at them through tears as I drove away. Scaling the infamously steep driveway, I pressed play on my iPod, beginning the CD that my mother burned for me to begin the journey. The first track was the season one theme song from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Imaginably, this song has since become my situational anthem.

As of that final moment, climbing the driveway, I am off on an adventure--the likes of which are completely outside my grasp. I have begun a search for something meaningful, something unavailable to me in the city where I grew up. Whether I'll find it in Chicago is debatable, it was mostly an arbitrary choice. But I have to start somewhere, and right now, every city in the world has just as much of a chance at containing the object of my pursuit as any other. With any luck, this excursion will ultimately take a lifetime.

At eight thirty this morning, crawling onto the I-5 North at an entrance I've used thousands of times before, I reset my roadtrip mileage counter to zero; right now, it reads somewhere around 350 miles.

I just rolled into Las Vegas and am already suffering the shakes and headaches of the dehydrating heat. The first few hours of driving were foggy and humid, but the desert climate swiftly took over.

I've stopped at a shopping center for excedrin and a tuna sandwich that I won't finish, as it's too hot to really eat. I was also questing, in vain, for a WiFi connection--I have been reduced to using the internet on my phone.

It's been nice to drive through the desert and really take in the scenery, possibly for the first time, though I've driven this route before, at least this far. Those of us who have lived in it or near enough to it take it for granted most of the time, and for good reason. The landscape is monotonous and sometimes vertigo-inducing, the weather is extreme, and the hill people that usually tend to take up residence in these places aren't exactly the barbecuing, quaint suburbia next-door neighbors that we who hail from southern California generally expect.

But today, I drove toward a horizon constantly lined with red hills, barely showing the incredibly vivid blue sky between them. White clouds sat in the distance, perfectly still with no wind to move them, hanging so low above the ground that they cast impossibly dark, vast shadows onto the mountains.

So now, I venture into brand-new territory; Vegas is as far East as I've ever driven. Maybe now the monotony will break up.


  1. I couldn't agree more about the desert. It's gorgeous, but vertigo-inducing barely does the panic attacks that place induces in me justice. Steinbeck and his dog "Charlie" are with you in spirit, as are Robyn and I, not to mention Dr. Thompson. God speed, Maria. Hot tuna sandwhiches are nasty...

  2. Ew I don't think I will be craving a tuna sandwich any time soon! I love that you have this blog to keep an account of your traveling adventures!!! :) xoxoxoxo!