Finding Myself in Nowhere

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.

“But why?”

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.

About stacy

I am a writer, author, mother, former magazine editor (last at Redbook), optimist, and, above all, a searcher. I'm still searching for whom I'm really meant to be, after a series of very jarring losses. Since then I've been trying to figure out what's next. Or, in other words, how to fill in the blanks.
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14 Responses to Finding Myself in Nowhere

  1. Lindsey says:

    “I am a person whose heart is often full. I am someone who feels awe and wonder and runs toward those things” – that, right there, nothing else, absolutely that: that’s the reason I adore you so much!

    I don’t like driving, actually, mostly because I get carsick. But I feel close to nature and to God (same thing? – I believe in God, only I spell it nature – Frank Lloyd Wright) and to the great pageant of this universe when I’m faced with something vast and unknowable, just as you describe that lake to be.


    • stacy says:

      Linds, I get carsick if I am not driving… and I forget! Because I am always driving, because I am alone! It’s a perfect metaphor for me: if I am not in the driver’s seat, about anything, I can’t trust it and it makes me sick. Ha!

  2. Louise says:

    Yes please. I want to see/hear about the table that made that wonderful ride possible.

    • stacy says:

      Oh, excellent! I will write about the table shortly, then. So glad to share it with others because it really is carrying a lot for me. Thanks!

      • Eileen says:

        I’d like to hear about it also…it’s always interesting to hear why someone is really interested in a particular object and what they do to get it.

  3. I love this: 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.

    Going back to old stomping grounds — especially those that remind me of my heart getting stomped on — is always so unnerving. I half expect to run into my former self somewhere. What I’d tell her, I don’t know.

    I’m glad you found new exits and a perfect soundtrack to accompany that trailblazing. I’m glad you were driving toward something that brings you joy.

    And here’s another bit of symbolism: Seeking out beauty and majesty despite the pain you feel. Keep doing that, lady!

    • stacy says:

      This >>>What I’d tell her, I don’t know.
      Isn’t that amazing? I’d tell her NOTHING. Nothing at all. I remember when my parents were dying that one night I was sobbing and sobbing, from such a dark place. My boyfriend was trying to comfort me, and I said, “I would NEVER tell anyone that this is what is coming, NEVER! Because knowing about it couldn’t do anything to help at all.” We forget that our relative innocence is a blessing, even though when it’s ruptured, we believe the opposite for a time.

  4. Alexandra says:

    this question is so full. Because depending on life, emotions, my mental state at the time, that place of “home” can feel like something other than what I’d like it to be. But if I answer, when do you feel home, it is outside. walking. in the important green and blue with trees and leaves and quiet. that’s when we see all we have, and all we don’t appreciate . I have so much here, so much beauty… and inside, it’s sinfully easy to forget.

    I love how where you live, sounds.

    Beautiful post, S. Beautiful soul, spirit, mind, being.

    • stacy says:

      Oh, it is so sinfully easy to forget, beautifully put. That’s why, to me, the best concept in the world is that life/yoga is a “practice,” that we get every day to start again and try to remember the gifts. We weren’t meant to remember them always, no way. Otherwise, we’d have stayed in the caves and would have never discovered the thrill of discovery.

  5. Julia says:

    I’m with Louise–would love to hear about/see the table. When I divorced, I left most furniture behind as part of my new start………everything except my dining room table that I still look at with love. It had been a wedding present from my mother and the table had been in my head since I saw a similar one on a magazine cover years and years earlier (I still have the magazine cover).

    I don’t have many formal dinners on my table, but it sits in front of some fantastic windows and I’ve used it for scrapbooking, homework, a place to work from my laptop, and where I drink my coffee and read my newspaper. Yes, I get it —a table can change you life and bring you joy!

    • stacy says:

      Julia, that is a fabulous story about the table. Especially how it bridges from BEFORE to AFTER, something that was always there. As I promised above, I will tell the story of the table, and show pictures. It’s a strange, beautiful little thing (well, strange beautiful, BIG thing, actually).

  6. Helene says:

    You made me want to get in the car and drive for a few hours, just to experience a little of what you just described.

    I am blessed with a healthy baby girl of four months old and whenever we share a moment of utter bliss I know that I wouldn’t want to change a single thing in my life so far. Be it that high school was awful and that I should lose a few pounds; with her in my arms smiling at me none of that matters. I cherish those moments and her, and try my best to remember them during the less blissful moments of motherhood.

    Thank you for writing this and sharing your experience.

  7. D. A. Wolf says:

    “Permission to just be…”

    Why is that so hard for some of us? That said, how delicious that you were able to give yourself this road trip with wistful reflection, discovery… And a gorgeous table with its own stories to tell, as well.

  8. I totally understand why you drove to pick up the table! And I’d love to hear more about said table. 🙂

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