Posts tagged road trip 2012
“ Great stories happen to those who can tell them.”
Ira Glass, in his tribute to David Rakoff.
I spent most of my trip tuned in to NPR, and this memorial episode of This American Life was the best thing I heard all week. I listened to it the entire way through both times it played, and it made me choke up each time.
Justin made me a huge salad because the south doesn’t eat vegetables. I feel superhuman now after all the vitamins and minerals I just ate. (Taken with Instagram)
I made it. Today was the final leg of the journey and it didn’t go off without a few snags but I’m here and hanging with my awesome friend Justin and nerding out about science, so basically I’m doing pretty great.
This morning started with a disaster. Remember how last night I was all redeemed about Washington, D.C.? I had changed and the city had changed and everything was new and lovely?? Yeah, not exactly. In fact, this morning, I reverted to the frazzled state that D.C. puts me in because I went down to grab something out of the car and my car was gone. I had parked in front of the house, which is a totally legal place to park, but they towed me anyway. So I had to walk 3 miles in disgusting D.C. humidity to pay someone hundreds of dollars to get my car back. They said they took it because it was 3 inches over some imaginary line (seriously, I looked and there wasn’t any paint or signs denoting this line where you should not park) and also it still has temporary plates so somehow that’s suspicious.
When I saw the empty spot, I used every expletive I know. Even the British ones. At this point, Washington D.C. and I are NOT on speaking terms. I have never been gladder to leave a place on this trip. Not even Clovis, New Mexico was this bad, and that’s saying a lot. (I was so mad, I even vented into my phone to Tumblr, but evidently that post didn’t get made. Probably because my data situation was so weird. But maybe it’s good you don’t have to hear that, because I was really mad.)
The rest of the drive went okay, though I did hit Manhattan in rush hour because I. do. not. think. sometimes.
Honestly, it could have been worse. First of all, as soon as I exited the Lincoln Tunnel (inside which I sat for 24 minutes, which means I paid 50 cents a minute in tolls just to go through the damn thing), I saw the familiar blue jacket and white hair of Bill Cunningham on his bicycle. I rolled down the window and shouted that I loved his work, and he smiled and waved at me. We took the same route through part of the city and I couldn’t stop wishing I was on his bike instead of trying to get through in my car.
But I totally did it. The only other time I’ve driven in Manhattan was 10 years ago when I took that road trip with my friend Sarah, and it was an absolute disaster. But this time, I was a total badass. I safely but aggressively fought my way around taxis and pedestrians and didn’t even hit anything. I feel like a more evolved human for having successfully made it through Manhattan at 5:00 pm without killing a biker or hitting a cab.
And so now, I’m out in the woods on Long Island at Justin’s house. The science duo is back together!! You guys remember how I went to CERN? Well, Justin was the friend I went with. And I’m so incredibly lucky to get to hang out with him and work with him at Brookhaven.
So now, these trip logs are at an end. I’ll of course be blogging as usual, but this journey is over and I’m on to another one. Thanks to everyone for following me on this adventure and giving me pep talks and getting excited about the silly stuff I encountered along the way. And to everyone I stayed with and everyone I met over the last 11 days, you’ve made it the trip of a lifetime. Seriously, this one takes the cake.
This reminds me that I have to figure out what happened to my phone yesterday. I was driving through Virginia when I got a text from T-Mobile telling me that my roaming data limit had passed and I would no longer have any access to data on other networks. So, not only do I not get to read the internet when I stop for a break (I MISS YOU, INTERNET) but I can’t post anything while I’m driving either. I’m reminded of a story Shane told us the other night where he was in the woods and had no service for three days and he just kept opening his phone trying to send something and saying, “I don’t exist. I don’t exist. I don’t exist.”
So today, I disappear and the road takes over.
I was really cranky today. I had such a good time in Asheville, and I spent a long morning getting brunch and seeing the town before I got in the car. I knew that would mean I wouldn’t get to DC until after dark, and I would rather spend my time with my friends in their awesome little city than here in DC, but it was still a hard drive. The last couple hours were really rough because I was tired and dealing with bright headlights and, just, ugh.
And of course, it started pouring as soon as I hit the District because our nation’s capital is a swamp and I shall hate it forevermore, amen.
These kinds of long road trips are often revelatory in some way. So tonight, instead of snapshots, you get some deep thoughts I had on two rainy porches almost 500 miles away from each other:
- I was sitting on the balcony porch at Casey and Cody’s this morning just looking through the drizzle at the mountains behind their house and I was struck by how much Asheville felt like home. I don’t think it’s just that it was rainy and green and mountainous, either. I’d never in my life been to Austin, but leaving there felt like leaving home. And last year I had a terrible pang in my gut when I flew away from London, too.
You know that old saying, “Home is where the heart is”? I think it’s more like, home is where your family is. And not just relatives, but the family you choose to make out of the friends you find along the way. In the past few years, I’ve often felt like I didn’t have a true home: Portland is of course where I’m from and it feels comfortable there, but it has changed and so have I; and everywhere else I sometimes felt at home and sometimes felt like a weird stranger walking around in someone else’s life. But today, I realized I’ve found a way to have home meet me all over this country.
And now I’m off to make a home in Long Island, but that won’t be my only home. Because my family, my little tribe of friends that I’ve gathered over the years, are all over the place. Lucky, lucky me.
- All day, I was dreading Washington, D.C. Last summer when I lived here, I hated it. I was in school and working on my degree almost 80 hours a week, and the city was full of bullshit politics and people I didn’t understand and it was just not for me. And so today, somewhere in the middle of Virginia, as I was shifting around in my seat trying to get comfortable, I realized what was bothering me. It wasn’t the long drive or the weather - I was dreading coming back to this place.
But I got here and I went out on the back porch to stand in the rain and just not be in a car or a house for a few minutes, and I looked around and so much had changed. Leslie (my friend who owns the place) had done a lot of work in the yard. And when I went back inside, furniture had been rearranged and new paintings had been hung on the wall. And I realized that this place has changed and so have I.
A year ago, if you’d told me how my life would have panned out, or that I’d be on this epic road trip headed toward a dreamy science job at a national laboratory, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’ve come so far. 4,063 miles to be exact. But really, that’s not what I mean and you know it.
Here’s Cody with my favorite painting of his. It says, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” and yes, those are the Olsen twins. Cody’s a genius.
I told him to smile but he said, “Art is serious, Chelsea.” It certainly is.
Last night, Casey and Cody took me out to dinner at a cool place called Junction. You know it’s cool because my cocktail was called the Honey Badger (which is the only reason I ordered it). The food and drinks were delicious, but even better was hanging out with these two. Casey’s a poet and Cody’s an artist and I count them as two of my most interesting friends.