Yesterday, on the endless, practically featureless drive down I-5 from San Jose to Los Angeles, my daughter sleeping in her car seat in the back, my (extra-large) Red Bull propped between my knees, I called a bunch of friends, because six hours on the road seemed like a good time to get some catching-up done. “So why are you going to LA?” they asked.
And I had a bunch of answers at the ready: I have no work this week that I can’t do remotely; I was in the mood for some girl time; my dad’s in town for a few days and I miss him. I wanted to see how Goldie would do on a just-us-two trip (I usually take Indy on weekend trips because he’s easier to travel with, but he’s got a new school schedule now that I didn’t want to disrupt). I have a few colleagues in the area who I’ve been meaning to meet with for awhile.
See? Lots of reasons.
And all of them are true, but none of them are the actual reason why I packed up my daughter and a pack ‘n’ play and a thousand baggies of goldfish and headed south.
Years ago, when I was living in LA and very, very unhappy, every once in awhile I’d find myself in the car, shooting up the PCH with no real place to go. I’d put Sheryl Crow on the radio or just sit there in silence, with vague ideas about a Santa Barbara restaurant or a farm stand I might want to visit floating around in my head, but really just driving to drive.
It’s been years since I felt that way, but yesterday morning I woke up and all of a sudden felt it again: the desire – I’d even call it a need – to sit in silence with my hands on the wheel. You know, I write every single day of my life – I’ve written every single day for six years – and while that’s an amazing opportunity, the chance to put my voice and my thoughts out into the world, once in awhile you just need to shut it down for a second. Stop talking about life and go live.
Everyone knows this feeling; this desire to get out of your own head, away from the taptaptap of the keyboard, and go. Anywhere. Some people find that escape in a yoga class, or in a solo dinner in a nice restaurant, but for me it’s always been about the road. I love the peace, and I love the space; I love the weird little gas stations you stop at and the snippets of talk radio you catch as you pass through small towns. Mostly I love the loneliness; I do. It makes me feel brave.
I don’t know. I guess I just really believe that sometimes the very best medicine you can give yourself is the permission to put all those millions of thoughts on mute for a minute, throw on a podcast or maybe some Iggy Pop, and just drive.