Yuma, Arizona is one of our frequent stops, and sometimes it feels like one of those four corners of the world; there’s very little out there, including internet. Really, I get that sensation a lot on the road: that I’m very close to an invisible edge of the known, about to fall off the earth. But the literal borders of states or countries are just as subjective and arbitrary as the ones I carry in my head: where or who I’ve been, and where or who I will be. I’ve been to a lot of new places in the continental U.S. since starting the new company, and while novelty tends to wear out quickly, the fact that I’m even in this seat is something I could have never charted for myself.
As every glimmering ingenue~ does during what they perceive to be their prime, while in school I agonized over the moves I would make to bring me closer to the life I thought I wanted. Internships, publishing or perishing, public readings and slams, networking and nepotistic connections; the perfect portfolio, resume, and mentalities to be…an academic. I did, more or less, what I thought I needed to do be on this track, to be validated as a writer from…what, a circle of acquaintances and critics, also ushering along their own scholarship. And I was pretty miserable. Every writer’s companion is doubt, and mine was sorely overfed and undernourished by empty relationships and criticism within and without that I hadn’t yet grown an organ to digest.
My sister, when I told her about Chris’ and my goal to become team drivers, said she always saw me doing something more…cerebral. She was on track for her PhD, and we both placed a lot of value in education and a professional career—things which our parents squandered—too much of which was our own value, throwing that into the pot along with our money, time, and self-care. And, in the end, our real desires and needs revealed themselves under pressure.
Looking back, I am stunned at the string of decisions and circumstances that led me right here: writing across from my partner in life, in a corner of the United States, living my bliss the best I have so far. That existential gravity is a force that bends memory and expectation, warping time and space just as well as any tesseract. That field is the map that is hardest to read: not an atlas, not a globe, but a shifting dynamo that never shows the same path the same way twice. I’ve gotten lost in it too often to count.
If only it were as easy as deciphering an atlas or following the road signs, and even that can be just as confusing upon the first pangs of discovery. To put aside metaphor for a moment, getting accustomed to driving without an onboard GPS has been a little nerve-wracking at times, landing me in literal tight spots as I search for a safe truck route inside city limits. This makes it even more imperative to keep an eye out for my exit, as rerouting is no easy task. Thanks to urban sprawl, a healthy sized road can shrink to an alley or residential street in a matter of yards. I feel assured when I travel the interstate pipeline and familiar state highways, but apprehensive when I don’t know for sure what the next turn is going to look like. Huh imagine that, the unknown being a source of discomfort.
Since I’ve gained some speed with it (heh), I might as well keep this allegory going. (Sorry not sorry). Whenever I white-knuckle through the tight roads, helped only with well-meaning but inappropriate suggestions from Google Maps, I can only feel like I’ve done this exercise before. Exerting my vigilance when smaller beings weave through the world with ease, I am too big to fit into these places: too big of personality, words, emotions, ambitions, and appetites, all while carrying a long load of baggage behind me. I feel as if I am not made for comfort or style or suitability, but to get things done. I take big risks, always keep an eye on the next thing down the road, and am sometimes a little loud going about my business. And yes, I have even felt unwelcome while regurgitating my mistakes and their consequences, looking for a way forward without leaving a trail of destruction behind me.
All that being said, I have navigated through both worlds with all the grace I could give, and the only accidents I’ve had are happy ones. And, detours granted, Chris and I both still have goals to return to academia in some respect, be it just for graduate school or to teach. In the meantime, I travel with more than just a tractor and trailer, and the destination is never very clear.