"The best way to find yourself, or anyone else, is to go on a road trip." Or at least that's what everyone who has ever spent more than two days in a car will tell you. It is considered to be the ultimate goal for every self-searching young person, short of getting lost in the woods for 3 months. It is forced time spent doing an incredibly mundane task, where you cannot escape, and yet you must continue.
"You should come visit me!" Was the sentence that got me started thinking about driving across the country. My friend Destiny was getting engaged, she had fallen in love and wanted to share her joy with me. In Missouri. 20 hours away. If I didn't get pulled over for excessive speeding. But as I thought about how this would probably not happen again to her, and how I had never been on a cross country trip, and how it wouldn't be too hard to take off work for the weekend, and how I didn't have classes Friday, it began to seen possible.
"Why don't I come with you?" Kim asked me a question that would change our friendship forever. I had run into her at the only place on our campus that you can actually get a decent cup of coffee. My plan to drive to the Midwest in less than 90 hours had many flaws, and me driving the whole time, was likely the biggest one. But if Kim came, we could split the driving, and it would mean that I could have someone to talk to. So I agreed and we started planning.
"Bro where are you at lmao?" Is the text that popped up on my screen Thursday morning. I had gotten out of class early and I told Kim that I was going to pick her up at the Dunkin. Despite getting turned around, I found her, and we started our drive.
"There's an Amish Market about 40 minutes east." It was only about an two hours into our drive when I got hungry. I had gotten so excited for our trip that I failed to eat lunch, and now that it was approaching 3pm, food was all I could think about. Kim had looked up Amish Markets near us, and the closest one was 40 minutes in the opposite direction of where we were going. But Kim and I were both excited at the thought of fresh pretzels, and my mom always told me that the memories made along the way are far more important than the destination, so we turned around. And after getting lost (the first time of many) we arrived. As we pulled up there was a sign that said 'Restaurant Store' and as we drove past it into the parking lot Kim asked what that meant. Assuming that the sign said Restaurant and Store, I assured her that we were on our way to food. We got out of my car and walked inside.
"Um… I don't think I can eat an industrial sized freezer." Kim's doubts had been right. We had driven over an hour out of our way to end up at a restaurant depot. After the shock wore off, we ran around laughing and searching for a gift for our newly engaged friend. We attempted to figure out where we were, and asked the cashier if there was anywhere to eat near the depot. There wasn't. Resulting in us driving another 30 minutes to find a small French fry place to eat and pee.
"Oh! We have to meet my friend in Pennsylvania!" Kim's close friend from high school lived in Pennsylvania and went to Carnegie Melon University. This meant that we had to drive another hour out of our way to have dinner with her. At first I was worried that we wouldn't make it to our AirB&B on time, but when we met Kim's friend I realized we had made up the hour we had lost initially. We all sat and talked for almost two hours and ate some of the most amazing grilled cheese I have ever had.
"It says there isn't another gas station for 25 miles," Kim said as the snow came down harder. We had left her friend's house and we were less than two hours from our AirB&B in Columbus, Ohio, but we were also on less than an 1/8 of a tank of gas. We continued driving, but still no gas station. I began to panic. I began telling Kim horror stories of women who ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere while it was snowing, reminding her that those women could be use. Kim could tell that I was worried and called one of our friends, Michael. Though the phone call was mainly him teasing me for freaking out, the distraction paid off, and before I realized it we were at a gas station. After filling up the car on gas and myself on snacks, I calmed down.
"Wow, look at those bunk beds!" It was my job to find the AirB&B for the first night on our road trip and, because I'm 5, I got us bunk beds. We were so exhausted that we both fell asleep almost immediately. Only after realizing that there was no curtain on our window, meaning that we could see into the house next to us. Resulting in us waving violently to try and make friends until they closed their curtains.