My first trips were road trips. I still remember the first time I got in my car all by myself and drove what seemed really far away–maybe 200 miles–to do something I’d never done before. It was fall of 1999, and I’d just broken up with my boyfriend. I was celebrating-slash-mourning this breakup by driving to a music festival one state away to meet up with my girlfriend and, well, look for a new boyfriend (it worked). For a good portion of I-83 south–passing into Maryland–I was convinced I was crazy. I can still see myself leaning towards the wheel, 19-year-old eyebrows furrowed, head slightly shaking back and forth as I thought who does this?
A couple of years and many, many music festivals later, I started driving the other direction, north to a totally different type of festival in western Massachusetts. Of course I made friends there, too, which resulted in many return trips up the New York State Thruway. I actually have a favorite rest stop on I-87–the Plattekill stop has a Sbarro with really passable spaghetti. Yes, I meant to write ‘really passable’. That’s all one can really expect from roadside rest stop pasta.
Thirteen years later, I find myself retracing (almost) the same routes. I leave for my last trip (for a while) tomorrow; when this post is published, my trip will already be half over. I’m driving south first, then north, on a mostly-solo road trip. There will be no festival-going, music or otherwise, and no searching for a boyfriend. But it will be a trip similar to those in years past. I’ll be alone, in my car, with my music, traveling through space and time to meet new places. And I’ll probably be stopping at Sbarro for some really passable spaghetti.