This past weekend, I drove to Rochester, NY to pick up a table I’d bought online. I am super into this table—if you like home decor and old stuff (though not necessarily antiques), let me know and I’ll wax on about the table in a later post and show you photos. This table is going to change my life.
But anyway, when I mentioned to people that I was driving the five-and-change hours to Rochester to get the table, I got a lot of questions.
Uh, I really like the table.
“Well why didn’t you have it shipped?”
I hate paying for shipping, and I’d already paid more for the table than I wanted to, but I looked everywhere. Trust me, it’s perfect.
“But you’ll spend as much on gas as you would have on shipping.”
Uh, no… That’s kind of the point.
I finally realized I wasn’t answering the question they were asking, which was, “Aren’t you going to be annoyed to waste all that time?”
Man, to me? Driving four-plus hours anywhere is sheer meditation. A treat. A reward even. The only standard by which I am measuring myself when I am driving is a basic math of minutes passed, miles achieved, making good time—it’s probably the easiest I ever am on myself. There’s nothing else to do, nothing I’m forgetting to be doing, because driving is all I am tasked with doing, for four or five or eleven magical hours.
I process my thoughts without judging them, I have my feelings and then look at them, as if at a distance. I feel safe. I feel me.
As it happened, I drove west from Garrison, and drove through very potent memories of two past loves, men with whom I spent hours and days and weekends in the lower Catskills, hiking the gentle mountains, canoeing down the Delaware river, disconnecting from the adrenalin of the city. Derek and I lived so much of our relationship in Sullivan County. It made me miss him with a terrible ache. Oh, we so loved to do the same things, and both found such a deep spiritual connection in nature.
For three hours I was lost in it all. Not sad, but wistful. But at the same time it felt like I was gathering it all up, inhaling the smell of all those walks again, breathing them deeper into my soul, and saying, “Yes, you will reside within me forever.” I felt grateful.
And then, eventually, I finished driving the roads I’d already driven, finished passing exits I’d taken, and started to strike out on new road. The symbolism was gorgeous to me. I scrabbled for my iPod and put on U2′s “It’s a beautiful day” and played it three times in a row, feeling just so damn happy to be alive and cruising through this amazing world.
When I got to Rochester, I found the store where my lovely table was waiting, looked at my watch and did some quick math for the hours I’d need to drive to Albany that night. Then I took off for the northernmost point in Rochester, so I could see the sea that is a lake, and pretend I could gaze all the way to Canada. I had to clamber down some rocks, take off my ballet flats to get purchase, exposing a foot injury. It was just twelve or fifteen feet, but each step was killing me, no matter how carefully I placed my hurt foot. But dammit, I was fifteen feet from something I had never seen, a terminus, a vantage point, a place wherein the viewer can try to take in the bigness of it all.
Which is the reason I love driving in the first place.
I got there, down to the beach. I breathed in the smelly, damp rot, turned my head slowly left to right to see where land ends and beautiful, broad horizon of nothing begins. And I took a pretty unconvincing photo. That kind of vast can’t be well-captured by Instagram. That’s why we still have to get in cars and planes and go places—and may we never stop.
I am a collection of memories and experiences. I am a person whose heart is often full. I am someone who feels awe and wonder and runs toward those things, instead of choosing to make them small, just to make myself big. I love wonder and the newness of it, the feeling that every day I start again.
This is what I feel when I drive for hours. I give myself permission to just be.
I know there’s something poetic and gigantic at work in that simple statement, but all I need to know is that it is there, always waiting for me: that somewhere in myself I know that all is as it should be, every moment, and I am doing fine.
Where do you feel closest to the universe, to god, to yourself? Do you know how to find those feelings in your daily life?
I don’t quite yet, not quite yet, but I see those feelings out of the corner of my eye every day now. The path is unfurling, like a long, lost highway. And I’m going to keep getting on it and clocking the miles until I drive myself home.