Monday, May 18, 2009

Golden Sate of Mind

Around this time last year, I drove cross-country. Or more accurately, I was a passenger, helpmeet, sing-along partner, navigatrix and occasional (sweating, rabbity, claw-handed) relief driver to my college roommate as she made her way from New Jersey to San Francisco in the company of a multi-colored stuffed monkey.

Road trips often mark life changes, and on this trip, the change belonged to my friend, E. E was moving herself and everything she owned from one coast to another, embracing the classic narrative of westward progress with her usual resilience and vigor. I was, ostensibly, along for the ride- but only ostensibly. Though I resisted acknowledging it at the time, the trip was a last hurrah, a farewell to a certain set of possibilities and a knuckling down to the choices I'd -sometimes grudgingly, often unwittingly, but nevertheless- made.

In other ways it was just travel: beets and beds and rest stops and coconut cream pie; small talk and hail and running down the canyon and growing sick with height.

This summer, I have the chance to do it again. In truncated form, coming to rest just across the continental divide, but still a big, slow Western pilgrimage, someone else's liturgy of leaving.

Do I go? Kansas was an awfully long state. And the thought of retracing last summer's arc -the parabola of the closing door- is close to unbearable.

And yet: Go West. Eat mountains. Stuff your gullet with land.


Ellie said...

Go West, Anne.

The drive was hard sometimes, emotionally and physically, but wouldn't it be fun to explore some roads we didn't take? Or the same ones with year-older eyes?

Go West, I say.

Anne said...

As it turns out, something else has come up. I do want to see that northern road someday, though.