What’s one thing you can’t wait to do once the Coronavirus is in the rearview?
I can’t wait to travel again.
Recently, I couldn’t find anything to hold my attention on Netflix or Prime. I had finished a day’s worth or more of writing and wanted to veg out a bit. So, I hopped on everyone’s favorite distraction, YouTube, and before I knew it, I had stumbled onto some luxury van tour videos.
It was love at first sight. And I hate driving vans. Which meant two things: Opposites really can attract and I felt a new adventure calling me.
So, with curiosity properly stoked, I began to dig into this lifestyle, and here are some of the things I’ve learned.
A road trip without a plan
A funny story before we dig into the seemingly beautiful potential of living on the road.
There actually was a time when my buddies and I took off in one of their old beat-up vans on a short road trip. It was one of those odd moments of my youth, back when I first tried to go to college but couldn’t afford it. So, I decided to unofficially move onto campus anyway. We had a lot of crazy adventures during this time, but the van story is something special.
I don’t really know what we were thinking, but we were sitting in the common area, watching the community TV. A big snowstorm was working its way into St. Louis. One of my friends turned to us and said that we should go.
“Go? go where?” I remember someone asking back. And he just pointed at the TV.
It was obvious, in that perfectly foolish way of youth, that we should indeed go. Just for the weekend. And we did too. From the middle of nowhere Kentucky to St. Louis, Missouri. It must have been a 4 or 5-hour drive.
I was actually the one that drove us the last stretch, late at night, tired, and then there was that snowstorm. It was really growing something fierce when we got close to our destination. We decided to park near a McDonalds for the night. I remember it getting bone cold. We stuffed newspapers in every crack of that old ugly van (and it had a lot of cracks).
We used some of the newspapers to add layers of insulation to our clothing too. It was wonderfully awful.
The next day we woke up, and two or three members of our crew were missing.
Here we were, in a big strange city, a snowstorm painting what little familiarity there had been into a twisted ghost of its former self, and we were missing people. Turns out they had found a big hill near the van and decided to go rolling down it. Who needs a sled?
We washed up in the bathroom of the McDonalds near where we had slept and then took off to explore the city. It turned out to be a pretty awesome time despite how uncomfortable sleeping in that old van had been.
Just give me the open road
I can’t imagine a better life than one that includes a few months of each year on the open road. I come alive in the quiet shuffle between places, that rush of excitement at the prospect of discovering somewhere new with all its stories and intrigues.
It’s this, more than anything, I hunger for. Not just the breaking up of the monotony of life as it has been but the promise of the undiscovered with all its many new experiences. You could call it a longing for adventure, but that might be too small a word. I want to live life in between the promises.
What promises? The promises of a normal life, of security, and day-to-day microdoses of the death that waits for us all. I want that wild unknown with all its risks that can only be found in stepping outside one’s own comforts and sense of normalcy.
Whenever I hit the open road, it’s this that I tap into. It’s like grabbing ahold of an electric fence and discovering that is very much still alive. And you are too.
There are songs on the open road that you cannot hear anywhere else. Not just on the radio. No. These are the songs of tires counting down the miles, of live music at strange little bars (I experienced this before, and nothing is quite like it), and the poetry of strangers who get excited to share not only their stories but something of themselves.
I miss that. I long for it. I want more of it.
I hear tires singing
None of this is to suggest that I want to abandon my regular life. It’s just that I hear the call of something else, something strange and exciting and new. I hear the music and I want to go closer so I might be able to make out the words.
I’ve always loved to travel, but I have never fully invested myself in its potential. It’s always been something of luck and happenstance that I got to travel to one place or another. But now, I want to build a life around this.
Maybe not forever, and from where I’m at right now, not something I want to do year-round. I just want to follow a few miles and a few miles more after that to see what might happen. Then come back home with all these new experiences bagged up in the back of my brain, the ghosts of a thousand new places haunting my heart and imagination, and see what words might find me from all this. What truths might I tap into, write about, share with the world after something like that?
Moral of the story? Take time to explore your deeper stirrings, and time to figure out what those stirrings might mean. You never know what you’ll find, maybe even your next adventure.
When it comes to travel, I haven’t been nearly as far as I want to go, seen nearly as much as I hope to, or experienced even a fraction of the things I know can only be experienced in the adventures beyond the tiny bubble I call home.
I have a traveler’s soul buried in me and I can’t wait to unearth it again. What’s buried in your soul? What are you going to do to unearth it and breathe fresh life into it?