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.