I’m going to embark on a terribly cliché “unsatisfied privileged woman in her twenties looking to find any semblance of excitement” road trip.
I imagine myself haphazardly throwing seasonally inappropriate clothing into too few suitcases at an ungodly hour (9:30, maybe 10). My eyes are wild with passion, or probably the sugar rush of too many pop tarts, as I frantically search for the archaic maps from my father I’d been saving to make a hella cute Etsy-esque collage. I sneak out of my empty apartment — pretending to leave behind a loved one who will be heartbroken by my lack of note even though my neighbors know me solely as the girl with too far a robe radius — and throw my scarce belongings into the backseat of the Honda my parents still pay the insurance for.
Freedom! I rejoice, hitting the same stretch of highway I amble through every single morning on my commute. But oho, this time I’m not going to work, not even calling in sick! Never Eat Soggy Waffles inspires me to veer east onto an unfamiliar exit, and I applaud myself for being so flippin’ adventurous. With a full tank of gas and a loose grip on reality I am immediately transported out of the concrete jungle and into the vast landscape of what can only be Utah or Iowa or someplace equally dull, heart racing at the sight of yet another McDonald’s-Valero-Starbucks pit stop clusterfuck. “Truly majestic,” I caption my 17th selfie, pouty face blocking any possibility of a historical landmark making it into the frame. I had promised myself I would take this time to connect with Mother Earth and stay off social media, but deep down I know my followers deserve to be part of these life-changing moments.
With only brief stops for Slurpees and bladder relief from their syrupy consequences, I charge forward. My hair cascades behind me, windows up with AC on full blast, while I repeatedly fuck up the lyrics to the same three Lumineers songs. I consider dramatically hurling a mixed CD from my ex out the window, but know I’m too much of a sentimental sucker to actually do so, scream-singing louder as an alternate catharsis. In this obscure tumbleweed plagued environment there are no signs mandating the speed limit, but even if there were, I would not heed! Cause, like, fuck the police, you know?
I continue practicing horrible hygiene and bathe only in the glory of self-righteousness, feeling real haughty and independent until an ominous indicator light pops up on the dashboard indicating nothing useful other than my inherent uselessness. A lack of street smarts, open road smarts, you could die out here, what’s wrong with you, woman smarts is catching up with me, but I refuse to call for help. The flashing charger from the flea market with rave-like pulsing ditched the party miles ago, and phone juice is too precious for admitting defeat. I manage to pull into the parking lot of a 3.5 star motel (a necessary Yelp search stealing the last drops of life from my bedazzled iPhone, but hey, hot tub), thankful for a queen sized bed on which to be melodramatic. I promptly fall asleep (over the covers because, germs), only to awake hours later with alarming clarity: no more soul-searching; it is time for me to ditch the faulty Civic and fly business class back home.
* * *
On this road trip, there are no out-of-body experiences while watching the sun creep its way down the Grand Canyon from the back of a stranger’s pickup. No precarious tents pitched amidst violent storms, the warmth of a sleeping bag paling in comparison to the pride of making it in isolation. I do not find renewed beauty in being alone. I do not enjoy my own company. On this road trip, the destination inevitably crushes the journey; when the young woman with the stable job and nice apartment and gut wrenching hopelessness returns from seeing the world and can still only think of herself.