I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Flagstaff, Arizona, with a cappuccino and a bowl of granola. I’m surrounded by men wearing black-rimmed glasses and performance clothing that no doubt wicks sweat away from their outdoorsy bodies.
It’s gray outside, raining; I grabbed my orange fleece vest from a pile in my car and threw it on as I was coming in, and now I’m a bit of the female version of these men, tapping away on my computer as they tap away on theirs.
I’ve raced across the country; two mornings ago, I woke up in Arkansas, and tonight I’ll sleep in California. I collect miles and shed time zones. I’ve been lucky, so far, to have had an easy trip – knock on wood – and celebrated that last night by treating myself to some fantastic Mexican food. I didn’t sleep enough, but am eager to get on the road.
Driving across the country reminds me how much I love driving across the country. Even though I’m hardly stopping, I’m inspired and amazed by the beauty of this land. It has transformed from lush green mountains to wide skies full of rolling clouds, from sultry humidity to air that feels like a fact, and I’m mesmerized by all of it. I want to stop and explore the parks, the history, the towns.
I am alone, but for the most part, I do not feel like it. I take pictures and send to friends, using the marvel that is talk-to-text to narrate this journey. People have welcomed me into their homes with enthusiasm that buoys my confidence. So many things have humbled me in these months, and along this drive, I’ve discovered another one: I have people rooting for me at every turn. How did I get so lucky? It is an embarrassment of riches.
Something in all of this finally feels like a beginning. I’m not really thinking about what I am doing when I finish this drive. For now, it feels good to go from place to place, mentally writing a list of wonders that ignite my curiosity. Later, I tell myself.
There’s still time.
It seems like there are kindred spirits here in this coffee shop. On a different day, I would buy a vegan sticky bun and sit here all morning, watching the rain and making myself known in my own quiet way. Instead, I’ll pack up and disappear, knowing this world will be here when I come back through, someday.