I’ve always connected with the road. Connected in that way you do with things that aren’t really interesting. Like mornings or a well-organized pantry. Roads just feel right. I think it’s the endlessness of them—how there’s always another way to get to your destination. It’s why I rarely use a GPS. GPSes are tools: soulless and deliberate, lacking imagination or curiosity. But roads feel alive. They beckon, like Frost’s road that bent into the yellow wood undergrowth. Theoretically you can get anywhere on a road, from one new place to another—with new people, new sights, new tastes, smells, hopes, and problems. And you can get back again. Back where you started, having been more places, seen more things, grown, been challenged, and—always—made better for it.
Last summer I started longing for the road more than usual. Obsessively scrolling around Google Maps during downtime at work wasn’t satisfying my infatuation. There were so many roads, and I was traveling the same one (14th Street NW in Washington, DC) every day, twice a day, to and from work.
One day in late summer I had a lightbulb moment: it’s time for a road trip. Not a Sunday afternoon drive, and not even a long road trip vacation. No, even a long vacation has deadlines. You need the GPS to get home on time for the vacation to end. A real road trip. One that embraces the endlessness of those roads.
The idea was frustrating. It was so instantly fully formed, yet so impossible. The weight of the impossibility and the reasons why it could never work were obvious: careers, money, safety, expectations, our “things”, stability, (our hilarious cat, Garbage). It festered.
It festered until a Saturday in September, when Angie and I passed an old Volkswagen Vanagon parked on a shaded tree-lined side street in Dupont. It was brown and neglected (or was it well-loved?). I gestured towards it, casually suggesting to Angie a life-altering pivot like it was an idea to order Thai. She listened, tolerating my lecture about the possibilities of a real road trip. About the allure of the road.
Here we are nine months later and one week away for embarking on our year-long road trip. After listening to my pitch, and exercising her trademark anxious but thoughtful skepticism, Angie endorsed the idea with an enthusiastic “Why Not?” We’ve got a van, arranged for a caretaker for Garbage, and found part time employment for the road. (More on all that to come!)
Life is short and there are a lot of roads. Why not, indeed.
Thanks for following along with us! We hope to keep this blog regularly updated with stories from the road, my photography, and Angie’s adventures cooking in a van.
Glad you’re along for the ride with us.
Here we are, surrounded by boxes, covered in Comet, trying to figure out Obamacare, and wondering why the heck we are doing this insane thing. Our lives in DC have been wonderful: full of friends, meaningful jobs, a beautiful apartment, and the cutest cat in the entire world.
So as I tape up what seems like the thousandth box, I am focusing on the adventure that lies ahead. If our lives in DC were defined by routine, I expect that the next year will be the exact opposite. We will climb mountains, bathe in rivers, and share meals with people whose experiences and perspectives oppose our own. We will ditch the 9-to-5 (at least temporarily) to pursue opportunities we truly love, we’ll make memories (some to cherish and some to repress), and we will learn know the in’s and out’s of Volkswagen mechanics.
But I also anticipate finding a new routine on the road. Of course a lot will change as we adjust to living in a van (no, there is not a bathroom), but we will also strive to find a sense of normalcy in our days. I’ve cooked in a tiny kitchen before, and I look forward to sharing my cooking successes and mishaps on our camp stove. And, as I strike a new balance with work and life, I have the chance to reconnect with personally fulfilling opportunities in writing, editing, and design.
So, while preparations for this trip have been physically and emotionally draining, I know that new adventures, personal growth, and plain ol’ fun are always just outside our comfort zone.
See ya in a year, comfort zone.