Those who’ve known me a long time were surprised when I went on a road trip. Probably the most common question I got was “Doesn’t it bother you to do all that driving by yourself?” and they were even more surprised when I said “No. I love it.”
I didn’t get my driver’s license until I turned 27. And I’m not a New Yorker. Really I only got my driver’s license because I lived in Tucson, which is an almost impossible town to get around in unless you have a car. Between the weather, the abysmal public transportation and the lack of sidewalks on major streets, it’s dangerous sweaty work to walk in Tucson. So, I learned to drive. But I never liked it.
I reluctantly drove around Tucson after I got my license and bought a truck but made an effort never to go anywhere out of the city. Highway driving made me nervous. My best friends and boyfriends have always liked to drive so I took up residence as navigator/conversationalist/music changer/burger unwrapper in the passenger seat and loved every minute of the rides where I didn’t have to drive.
I’m not sure when that changed. Probably on tour because tour changed a lot of things about how I feel and what I like and what scares me.
The road trip I took in April was exhilarating. I loved getting in the car every day with only the idea of where I would end up but not the route I’d take. Getting lost was fun, making all the decisions was fun, driving down 2-lane highways in the mountains with really loud music on was super fun.
After 5 weeks of driving almost 10,000 miles, I got used to driving and learned how much it sinks into your body and frees your mind to think about other things. I got great writing ideas while I drove. I learned to drive and write quick shorthand on a legal pad at the same time (Dad, you didn’t read that. It was only for short periods of time and I was careful.)
Today I got incredibly stuck writing. I wrote and rewrote and edited and hated it and added things and started new drafts and looked at the blank white screen full of sentences I despised and didn’t know how to stop. How to unstick myself. But I remembered the experience of driving and hearing words play through my head so I grabbed my keys and got in my truck and just drove for about 45 minutes. I drove in silence. Then I put on some music. Then I got to the end of that album and I drove in silence again. And I started to hear those ideas in my head again. I could feel the logjam in my chest break up and let words out. And I thought, “thank God it worked.”
It’s crucial for me to figure out how to unstick myself. That’s crucial for anyone but I feel it keenly right now because I have a finite period of time in this golden hour where I have time and money and ideas and a place all at the same time. I have to make them count and I don’t have time to be stuck.
You know what else unsticks me? Spring rolls.
And Thai kha nang panang -red curry with chicken. The hotter the better.
Usually a good cry or a good sweaty workout. Or in an ideal world, crying during bikram. Generally anything that makes me take a breath. Although curry works in a pinch.
Crying during Bikram. Yes. For sure.
I remember all too well the “We are going out so you can learn to drive” days when you were in college. Heart stopping…why would you think that? Behind the wheel is a mature college student with all the capabilities that youth can bestow and glory be, here we are able to talk and laugh(?) about it later! About the pad and pen while driving…
Love you like a survivor,
still breathing. And being careful. Really :)
You’d think it would be diving…but no. It’s actually getting on the motorcycle. Hard to write and ride though… Another one is camping alone and in my tent late at night, but that one isn’t very comfortable.
Sometimes discomfort is what unsticks me too…