Sometimes it’s hard to say “good morning” to someone.
Sometimes it’s just simply not a good morning. And saying anything of that nature betrays the reality of what that morning actually is.
Four years ago, it wasn’t a good morning at all. I was woken up by my mother tapping at my bedroom door. And before I could yawn a “good morning” to her, she said “I think your grandma passed away last night while we were asleep.”
Good morning, indeed not.
Upon waking the whole family, gathered for Christmas and still shaking off the slumber, we discovered she was in fact deceased and set about making the necessary arrangements. My grandfather, stoic as he is, shook as he cried in a huddle with my mother and I.
Sometime shortly afterward, waiting for the coroner or something, I went to the fridge and immediately started pulling any cheese or vegetable that might go well in scrambled eggs. Even then, I kind of smirked at the self-realization that I was cooking because I was trying to cope. Something had to be ok this morning because absolutely nothing was ok. Something had to be normal, so I created the normal. I made my family breakfast.
Now, the sun is rising and my car is packed. My grandpa is checking my tire pressure. My mom is tossing a ball to our dog. I’m getting ready to leave and when I saw my parents this morning I said, “good morning.” But there’s something in everyone’s voice that’s kind of lying about that.
It’s a sad morning. It’s a nervous morning. It’s an exciting morning. My parents are going to miss me. My friends are going to miss me. I’m going to miss all of them. I’m still threatening to smuggle the family dog somewhere amongst my entire life that is packed into my car.
But I am also determined not to let the sadness and the homesickness stop me from leaving. I have a dream to chase and a life to live. Life is for the living. So away I go.
When my best friend joined the Peace Corps in May and was sworn in at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, I called her on the phone to find out how her pre-service training was going. She was so happy to hear my voice and I was happy to hear hers. Only a portion of the conversation was spent on Mongolian life and Peace Corps training. The majority of what we discussed were the kind of things we always talked about; relationships, feminist-twentysomething concerns, people we knew from high school, how good a bowl of macaroni and cheese was. She told me she was grateful for my call because it felt like everything was normal again. This was our “new normal.”
So begins my four-and-a-half day journey to a foreign land called California. Instead of waking up to the morning routine with my parents I will be making lots of Skype calls. I will be handwriting letters as well as texts to derby teammates in a rink I used to call home. I will be stopping to take pictures and meet people and document it all on my blog, calling home every night to check in, letting my family know I am safe. I will be sharing my new life with the world. This is my new normal.
I will be leaving within the hour from a small town called Pine Island, NY. Never heard of anyone famous from Pine Island? That’s ok, you will. I will be driving roughly 12 hours each day (stops included) from about 8am to 8pm.
My journey takes me through Pennsylvania, home to a number of wonderful people on skates but in particular, the Penn Jersey Roller Derby league, most all of whom I consider to be extended relatives in my ever-growing derby family. They are a part of derby history. I won’t be in Philly tonight, but I recommend my readers to check them out.
Next up I enter Ohio, following I-80 through Youngstown and Toledo. If you pass some weird chick with a bunch of stuff in her car on I-80 today, it’s probably me.
I sleep for the night in South Bend, IN.
Day 2 begins again, leaving Indiana on I-80 through Illinois. I hit 17 hours when I reach Iowa City. I-80, which apparently goes on forever, takes me through Omaha, NE, which is undoubtedly the funniest caller ID my phone has ever tried to mispronounce. I will close the day somewhere near Grand Island, NE.
Day 3 I set sail for an old friend in Glendale, CO. I-76 should get me there roughly around 2pm on the 29th and I will spend the rest of that day with one of the coolest girls who went to my high school, and bravely made her own move from our little small town several years ago.
Day 4 I will attempt to avoid the Rockies. Beautiful as they are, I’m not prepared to make this December journey any harder than it has to be. Instead I’m taking I-25 and making my way south to visit a friend of a friend who makes a wicked green chili in Albuquerque, NM. After refueling, I’ll venture westward another 5 hours or so and sleep for the night in Flagstaff, AZ.
Day 5 brings me to California when I pick up I-15. I’ll be passing through the San Bernadino and Los Angeles area before I finally reach my new home in Pasadena. I will most likely find a place to ring in the new year, three hours later than my parents, and sleep like a baby.
So that’s my approximate route. Aside from a couple of planned stops, this whole thing is really subject to change. Everyone knows Siri is a drunk who doesn’t know what she’s talking about and needs to go home. I’m also going to be attentive to the weather and road conditions so I may alter the course if need be. Feel free to comment if you think there’s some place cool I’ll be passing by on my way out there.
Time to get going. Good Morning everyone!