A lot of people I love have a lot of opinions on what I’m doing next, but thankfully, the minute I stopped asking for advice and just started doing, was the minute most of them simply wished me well.
Friday night I had a going-away dance party at the favorite Chinese restaurant, and we stomped around until two in the morning — I fell asleep in lipstick and fake eyelashes, rolled out of bed Saturday morning like a sack of rotting potatoes. I packed the meager remnants of my possessions into my grandma’s ’95 Ford Taurus, hooked the cat’s harness into a seatbelt, and drove to meet Ben in St. Paul; he was going to join me for the road trip, and fly back to the Twin Cities on Wednesday, because he is an enlightened sort of fellow who doesn’t mind Sisyphean tasks. “You ready for this?” one of us probably said.
“Let’s do it.”
So we drove to Brooklyn: stopping in Janesville, Chicago, and Cleveland along the way, stretching the drive over three days. Sashimi had despised those first twenty minutes of the journey, throwing her body around the passenger seat and howling desperate pleas for death as I made my way to him in St. Paul, but shortly after that she curled up in the back and went to sleep, seemingly content for the rest of the trip. Wisconsin was all hills and golden leaves, a disproportionate moon bobbing along the horizon as if we could learn its song. Ohio was endless, Illinois was in disrepair. Indiana, Pennsylvania were lovely again, hills of tattered orange and manifest destiny, old barns and grazing horses. The sun rose, the sun set, we stopped for coffees and cut up blocks of cheese. We listened to music and radio shows, we stayed in an Econolodge and with old friends, we ate blueberry frozen waffles and watched a four-year-old squeeze the bejesus out of her portly black cat. “Looooove youuuuuu,” she said.
There was a moment, near the end, when we reached the top of a hill in New Jersey balancing like tentative little surfers on a wave, to see the crash of the New York’s massive glittering skyline suddenly revealed in the distance. I wasn’t ready for it, I thought. Can’t we just keep driving? Take the detour. Tell me another story.