If I had a few weeks and a few hundred dollars, I’d drive across the United States.
I’d start in Virginia, because that’s where I am right now.
My first direction would be north, up and up all the way to Maine because I’ve never been there. I would go play in the snow.
Then, sick of the cold, I would head south. I would stop in Louisiana and see a dear friend, maybe stay with her for a weekend so she can show me Baton Rouge, her home for another few months.
After that, I would head to Texas to see another wonderful friend in Austin. Even though I’ve lived in Texas twice, I’ve never been there.
Then I would spike back north, but not too far. I would see my family, then go through my old college town and get coffee at one of my favorite cafes of all time. We would go partying at the college bars, get bad Mexican food at 2 a.m. and crash on couches. The next morning we would laugh about it and feel a little queasy, but know that no matter what, we’ve got each other’s backs.
Now, the rest of Nebraska is pretty boring to drive across, so maybe I would zig zag around and head to the Grand Canyon.
Finally, I would swing north once more, drive through Oregon, and spend several days exploring the Pacific Northwest. I would end in Seattle, one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited. I’ve wanted to return ever since.
But the drive’s not over yet. The cat and all my crap would still be in Virginia.
Next I would jump across the border into Canada. But maybe not because I’m not sure my poor car could handle the snow. But maybe if it was summer, it wouldn’t be a problem.
I would stop in little tiny Canadian towns and take pictures in front of really big, furry trees. I don’t know anything about visiting Canada, but I would learn.
I would see all five Great Lakes and make sure to step foot in Michigan and North Dakota, the only two Midwest states I haven’t been to. Then maybe down past Niagara Falls and through New York, back to Virginia, the cat and all the stuff.
If I had a buddy, the trip would be amazing. If I did the trip alone, it would also be pretty cool. I would eat in restaurants alone, stop along the road to take photos, never look at my watch, and sleep in terrible motels or maybe a tent or maybe just the back seat of my car. I would sit on the hood of my big old Buick and learn about the stars. I would charge up my laptop and write for hours, crafting stories and characters and relationships that are only real because I would make them real. I wouldn’t worry about paying rent or student loans or my electric bill. If I ran out of money, I would figure it out. I wouldn’t call home asking for help, but I would call home to share the celebration of life, the celebration of freedom and adventure.
But the truth is that the practicalities of it hang me up. Who would watch after the cat? How would I pay the rent and the student loans and the electricity bills at home? Would my job be waiting when I came back? What if I never wanted to come back, or what if I wanted to come back too soon?
And yet, in my mind, it would be a wonderful, exciting, inspiring, exhilarating adventure.