It is 7 a.m. on a Saturday in late winter. The sun has risen but has not quite gotten up the courage to shine just yet; the sky is a haze of pinks and blues, the moon still a pale orb hanging above the tree line. We step into the cold car, rubbing the sleep from our eyes and complaining about the icy temperatures. I can see my breath, and exhale forcefully into my numb hands as my sister turns the keys. The car sputters to life; it does not enjoy this cold spell in March anymore than we do. We pull out of the garage and I plug the address of our destination into the GPS.
Despite the early hour, my sister, my friend and I are wide awake. The roads are quiet; for a long time we are the only ones out. Inside our protective casing of metal and oil and gas, we have our own private world; the outside is a silent blur. I put on the Rent soundtrack, and we sing Broadway showtunes at the top of our lungs. None of us are particularly good singers. My throat is hoarse and raw, my voice strained and so far from the correct key that if I wasn’t so in love with the song I would probably cringe. None of that matters. I am with my sister and my friend and we are driving down open roads and we are singing La Vie Boheme and we are going on an adventure.
I have been on many road trips in my life. My family is from New York, so twice a year we make the eight hour trip to visit them. I am used to the sickly motion of the car, the rush of life outside, the strange suspension of time that comes with travel. Usually, I do not love road trips, but there is something exhilarating about travelling with your friends. There is something inherently fun in packing all of your stuff in a car and driving off just you, with no parents and no adults. Perhaps that is naive and childish of me, but I still feel a bit of a thrill when I set off on my own. Driving with my friends makes a routine trip to the grocery store an adventure, let alone an hour long drive to the bus station, which is what we were doing on this particular Saturday. When I travel with my friends, when we turn music up loud and drive down empty roads, I feel as if the entire world is stretching out in front of me. I feel free and fierce and grown up, and like I can do anything. I realize that I am being sentimental and a bit childish in this regard. My life is not a coming age of indie movie; I know this. Still, that does not mean that I cannot indulge these feelings of teenage nostalgia occasionally.
Dear reader, I encourage you to make every trip with your friends an adventure like the one I had this Saturday morning. It was an ordinary car ride, but because of the people and because of our music and because we were chasing the rising sun in the sky, it became so much more. We weren’t going on a great trip, but to me that hour long drive felt tinged with magic. Sometimes, watching the world whip by as you sit still forces you to reflect and treasure the briefness of our own lives. I thought about that as we drove, and sang, and talked, and I was so grateful that I was alive and with these people in this car at this particular time.
You do not have to spend a lot of money to go on an adventure. Grab a few friends. Wake up early. Get a cup of coffee. Get in the car, and chase the sun. Sing until your lungs ache and laugh until your belly hurts. Because I think, in this fast paced, stressful world, that is the closest we will get to magic.