The clock reads 4:22 AM and I feel dizzy as I get out of bed to silence the alarm. I gather my clothes from the dryer where they have been sitting all night and pick out a couple items to stuff into my packed bag. It’s now 5:00 AM and time to get on the road. The grass excretes water onto the edge of my jeans with each step I take. It’s wet, it’s early, and I’m cold. Mom waves goodbye and I take off into the darkness. I fill up my gas tank for $20 in the next town.
It feels like the first time I’m driving in the dark. It feels like the first time I’m driving in the rain. My car and I stay in the right lane driving under the speed limit. I fumble adjusting the windshield wiper, as if it’s my first time. The rain comes down harder towards me. In the dark, it looks like white streaks, splashing on the windshield. A giddy cry escapes my mouth. I’m all alone, in the dark, on the highway, marveling at the rain- like an alien seeing earth’s weather for the first time. It’s magical and the moment is all mine.
The clouds take a rest from rain. The landscape is dimly lit and filtered by gray clouds. I’m slowing down to drive through small towns between the miles of flat green pastures. I see a donut shop off the side of the road and pull myself over for a treat. “That’s 75 cents” says the man handing me a bag with one glazed donut. I give him a dollar and get back on the road. The donut is fluffy.
My dad made me 6 MP3 discs to listen to on my drive. I’m singing along to the second variety mix as I cruise alongside train tracks. Hundreds of cattle graze to my right and left. Some force in my stomach pushes up onto my chest and my eyes water in response. I’m a tourist at home, ogling at cattle like its my first time. I even pull over to take their picture.
This moment is mine. I sing along to Alabama’s Song of the South and stretch out my right arm to pretend I’m flying. Its silly and its personal, but I cried at the sight of cattle. How do you know you’ve been gone too long? That’s how….
The scenery gets more beautiful as I head north west through Amarillo. I make a road trip stop at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum. For $6, I learn about the breeding history, lung capacity, color possibilities and ranching of American Quarter Horses.
I drive for another hour and stop for lunch in a little town in New Mexico- Clayton. A sign reading “Food and Drinks” lures me to park on the main street and pop inside. It is a historic quaint hotel dining room. I eat one chile relleno before getting back on the road.
The clouds begin to part, revealing cracks of blue skies. It’s the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen. I pass by a series of towns with large feed mills.
I pull over to snap some pictures and keep driving through New Mexico. I gasp at the sight of mountains and the picturesque sky. I gasp.
I continue into Colorado and only stop once for gas and once at a scenic lookout spot marked off the highway in the mountains. The air is thin and crisp. I step out of my car and snap a couple more pictures.
After more than 12 hours of emotional scenery and driving, I arrived in Denver, where Lynn is now living and working. You may remember Lynn from my early posts in Houma in 2012. I’m with my mentor and dear friend. We will ride bikes and explore Denver. Currently, we’re sitting in a coffee shop that’s playing Third Eye Blind over the speakers. I savor my breakfast burrito. This moment is mine.