Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nineteen Hours

First 19hr leg: Seattle to Vegas by way of Twin Falls with a five-hour sleep at the KOA and a drive-fueling breakfast at IHOP. 

Last 19hr leg: Newport Beach overnighting outside of Los Banos, CA in the back of my car with a brief stop at Mt Shasta enroute back home. 
The long and straight of it

Between these was the ~9 hour drive from Vegas to Newport Beach - in which I did have great company and a relief driver. And also was the 5hr RT drive back to Jtree in a last desperate attempt for one more day of climbing. Over the course of 11 days, I tallied 3,356.9 miles, most of which I racked up alone. 

There is a bit of pride that comes from the willingness to go for what I want, when I want, with or without anyone else. No partner for a memorial day weekend backpack? I'll sleep in the snow myself. Travel-mate-less catching a chicken bus in a country who's language I cant speak to a location I cant pronounce? No worries, I've got a smile, watched a lot of MacGuyver, and can get myself out of most situations. 

Many friends have taken on bigger projects, farther-off lands, longer journeys; alone. In my circle of adventurous friends this attitude is common, almost of a requirement of "being." Its typical among those who seek out adventure, and I feel, an especially noted point of pride in women. Just look at the number of books on Amazon with titles such as Wanderlust and Lipstick, A Journey of One's Own, or Gutsy Women. Its as if going through life solo is the most worthwhile, strong, honorable, and only way to go; by any other means is a life with less value. To be solo is to be independent. To be independent is to be strong in mind, and heart. To be strong in mind, and heart, well shoot, you're practically Yoda. Though my goings alone aren't all that exceptional, I've still how I've gone about life.

Somewhere in northern Nevada...
Living without needing others there has been my MO. There's no one else who's opinion must be weighed into plans. No one else's bank account balance to be considered when determining if I can or cannot extend my own dollars. No one else's needs that need meeting. No one else's thoughts to invade my own. The solo experience has meant independence of not having to deal with someone else. 

Solo time can be recharging, a good check in with myself, to quiet outside influences, and just breathe. I sometimes worry too much solo time might make me go crazy. But usually what seems like "crazy" is the road to my own sanity and I come out feeling refreshed and recharged to keep pushing for good things in my life. Solo can be good. 

Which is exactly the reason I found myself alone on a 19 hour drive to Vegas just over a week ago and a 19 hour drive home Sunday night. 

But a 19 hour stint in a car. Twice in just over a week...well, it provides a girl a lot of time to think. Alone.

And I realized, I've had it wrong. 

The experience of life is so much richer, fuller, more memorable when I have someone, or several someones, I care about along for the journey. The sun is brighter on my face when there is another face turning up to feel its warmth next to mine. Lightening storms are more intense, scary, and thrilling when friends sit on either side of me oohing and aaahing at the bolts that flash all around us. The weird road signs and interesting passerby are more laughable, more interesting when someone else's eyes see them too. What is challenging, beautiful, giggle-inducing, sorrowful, inspiring, mundane; it takes on an extra level of meaning when its witnessed not just by me, but also by the ones I'm with - even if we experience things on a wholly personal, unique level. 

Copilots are key in safe navigation...
So maybe its not the popular way of traveling through life, maybe its not my OWN old, preferred way of living mine. I might be considered weak, unable to truly face my inner self, or heaven-forbid, needy, by others (or myself) who tout the solo journey as the only way to find meaning in this experience of life. If that is the case, then I accept being weak, I accept that I'm needy, and I will never be as cool as Yoda. But who effing cares? My life will be so much richer for the sharing of it. And I am grateful to my friends and family who have shared parts and pieces of this life I have lived. And also to the ones who will share more with me down the road. 

Is there any point to all this blathering about of words? I suppose not really, or only really to me. That I'm newly challenged to redefine the value I find in this life I have been given. Now, time to go live it. Care to join me?

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