I've been traveling a ton this past month and it is the kind of travel that has put me in a very specific kind of mood: the writing mood. What kind of travel does that? Road travel does it for me every time. Sure there are characters in the average airport who make me curious. Fancy hotels have their story to tell, too. Yet there's something about the scenery rolling by out the window, the long stretch of highway, the bizarre little towns along the way and the people who inhabit them that I find utterly fascinating and oddly in need of closer examination.
I've lived in California my entire life. I've driven these long stretches of freeway from San Francisco to San Diego, SoCal to NorCal and back again and again over many years. When I travel these roads, they feel like my roads. The strange people in the strange shanty towns feel like my people, the towns feel like my towns. The passing of the same landmarks, the same red rock formations, the same snowy peaks through so many phases of my life gives me a history to refer to, a future to look forward to.
A trip up to San Francisco from LA, then, is not simply a trip. It is a chance to remember what that trip was like when I was 13. Then 24 and in love. Then 30 and single and full of ideas anew. Then that time we all fought in the car, alternately shouting and laughing and stewing in anger. Then that time we were headed to a funeral, silent and sad. I remember the albums I discovered with each trip. The songs I played on repeat until my heart stopped aching. The beats I tapped on my steering wheel drive, drive, driving along. With every trip I take up and down this state, I revisit all that I have been and all that I hope to still become.
I've been on three California road trips in almost as many weeks. I have a lot of stories, real and imagined, to tell.