One year ago I was in a house near Tulane University in New Orleans. I was probably lying on the floor watching Jumanji for the second time that day. It had been awhile since I had been granted access to a television, and I was feeling pretty lazy.
This was near the end of week four of The Trip, about a week shy of the halfway point—at least for me. By that point, we had already vanquished practically the whole of the East Coast, from our fitful start in Connecticut down through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, trundling over the Blue Ridge Mountains from Virginia into North Carolina, then from a very brief stop in Georgia into Florida. Ahead of us lay about 700 miles of Texas; and then New Mexico, Arizona, and finally California and the Pacific Ocean.
I’m not generally prone to nostalgia, but as July 4th looms—the anniversary of one particularly legendary story from the trip—last summer has been weighing on my mind so heavily I feel like I can barely stand up straight. I suspect the reason why is I miss the clarity of purpose.
One year ago I had my big projects and very little else. These were projects so staggeringly big that it didn’t even do any good to look toward the horizon. You just had to focus on inching your way along, one day at a time. We would set ourselves loose short-term goals, but each day was more or less a binary proposition: (A) let’s keep moving or (B) here we will rest.
That simplicity is one of the great gifts of road life. As I stumble through one of the great awkward transitional stages of real life—that funny little crevasse between college graduation and full-fledged, lease-holding, career-having adulthood—it helps to remember what the real protein of a person’s life consists of.
Photo via Peter.