Love by the Light of the Fire Pit
“Let’s take a road trip,” my friends suggested. Not an hour earlier the three of us ate s’mores and drank wine, their pleading with me to apply for a position in another department of our large company – the same company currently strangling me in a vortex of boredom and uselessness. Truly, I felt that a change of department would be akin to moving to a new house but still living with the same bad spouse. No, I insisted against the open position, I need a fresh start in a new place with completely different mindset from the life I was living, although more closely resembling a life dying. So declining and skipping the road trip they conjured seemed unlikely since its primary destination ultimately benefitted me alone.
As is typical, I agreed to drive, because, in short, I love driving. I love being in control of where I am going. I love seeing new places. I love plotting a course. I love looking at maps. I love taking different routes there and back. I love planning additional excursions and I love stopping randomly along the way just because I feel like it. I love taking pictures, both the digital images with my camera and the mental images that imprint themselves on my brain. I love a long stretch of pavement disappearing around a bend, climbing over a hill, or meeting the horizon. So at o’dark thirty we start our outing with plenty of caffeine and a hefty dose of laughter. That’s how friends travel, right?
We arrive north of Palatka, Florida, having woven through the waterways of the St. John’s River. Our destination: an open house at a truck-driving school. Our purpose: to shake up my life. We each bring our own set of glasses – our individual view points of the day’s offerings – and we absorb different pieces of knowledge based on what we wonder, what we don’t understand, and the questions we want answered. We listen to presentations, we take notes, and we ride around in eighteen-wheeled classrooms, and we enjoy a bite of lunch, snap a few pictures, and continue on our way to the regional winery to taste some wine and digest the morning’s information. If I am going to make a five-hundred-forty degree turn, I want to let the prospect soak into my skin and settle in my spirit. And thankfully, there are two other people who are aware I am contemplating this self-imposed reversal of fortune, who know the information that has been laid out in front of me, and who think I am just weird enough to pull the trigger.
When Memorial Day rolls around, I repeat the road trip (taking a slightly different route as I love to do) driving solo, and telling no one of my excursion. I arrive literally and metaphorically. I listen to the same presentations, take different notes, ride a couple additional laps in the big rig, and sign on the dotted line. That’s it. I just changed my life. I open my mind and my future. As unquestionably as this new experience differs from the entire life I have known, making this move will surprise no one as the course I have been traveling leaves most spectators uninspired, myself included. As I begin to share my new life destination with others, each person recognizes that of anyone they know in their nine-to-five lives, I am the person most likely to transform into a long-distance, escape-the-monotony, shake-up-my-snow-globe, over-the-road truck driver. After all, I love driving.