Tag Archives: Days Traveled

Days Traveled, Unraveled: Home?

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After the best, most exciting time in Las Vegas, there was only one thing in my sight: “home.” But our next destination was Mely’s home: LA. We’d done it. Whatever you define “it” as. We saw 35+ states in two months. We made it back to LA.
I actually ended up back in Nevada just a few days later to drive Mely to a concert, which I was really ticked about, but ultimately had agreed to, so there was no room for my bitching. Although I wanted to bitch a lot. I was cranky and exhausted. I can’t emphasize that enough. Not to mention, I was getting texts from Julian every few days asking me about how I was or what I was doing. I knew he cared, I just didn’t feel like he did. Which isn’t the first person I’ve experienced this with. I was prodding him with annoying questions just trying to get him to feel something: anger, love, anything. Talking with him, while once comforting, became painful and pointless. We’d argued while Mely was at her concert and I was left alone in the shitty hotel in Las Vegas. I was begging him to tell me the truth about anything: new girlfriend, if he was out with someone, etc. He wouldn’t agree to it and kept asking why it mattered. I remember at the time being able to relate it to a Gilmore Girls episode–my best skill ever.

(See Season 4, Episode 11 “In the Clamor and the Clangor” when Luke & Lorelai are breaking the bells or just read a copy of the text here)

Luke: You know, none of this is any of your business.
Lorelai: It’s absolutely my business!
Luke: How?
Lorelai: Because! I wasted a week of my life adjusting to the idea that you had moved only to find out that you haven’t moved.
Luke: How much adjusting did you have to do? Nothing’s changed! I still see you everyday, I still cook your food, I still serve your coffee. What do you care?
Lorelai: I care.
Luke: Why?
Lorelai: Because I don’t want you to move.
Luke: Why? Why don’t you want me to move? (Lorelai stares at Luke and they are both interrupted when the Reverend walks in)

After that night, I finally decided that I had to stop talking to Julian. Being friends with him now was doing more bad than good–whereas in the beginning of our break-up, I needed him. I’m so happy he was able to still be there for me at the time. However I wanted to have one last good phone conversation with Julian before I ended it. His schedule was so busy, especially in comparison to the time zone difference in my schedule. So I told him I wanted to talk to him and we arranged that April 20 morning, we would. I had slept over Ali’s house the night before, and she wasn’t having a great night either. While I was actually looking forward to cutting myself off from Julian in hopes of freedom or severance or something, who knows, I also was very self-absorbed and couldn’t give Ali the attention she needed. So April 20 came around and I called him and told him I couldn’t talk to him anymore. He just simply asked, “why?” and I told him. I think he said he didn’t quite understand why now, but he said he’d respect my decisions or something. The goodbye was a little awkward.

15 minutes I called him back. In that 15 minutes, I had felt so shitty. I was expecting to feel liberated and relieved. Instead I just felt like I was broken up with all over again, even though this was my decision and I knew it was for the best. I hated feeling this way. I asked him how he felt about the situation–Are you upset that I’m cutting it off? What are you fucking feeling? I didn’t get anything from you in our last conversation. And his complacency and lack of answers just finished it off for me. Goodbye.

The rest of my “4/20” in California was a little weird. Mixed feelings about Julian. Trying an edible. Staying inside with Ali most of the day. It wasn’t anything cathartic nor miserable. It was a weird purgatory position and displacement of feelings.

But the next day I was going HOME. Back to New Jersey. I was too excited. To the point where it’s kind of sad. I never felt THAT strong of a connection to Belmar in terms of believing it to be the one place I’ll ever want to live. And I had lived in 3 different houses throughout Belmar, so it wasn’t anything nostalgic for me. I was oddly looking forward to having my job and that stability. I was looking forward to having my bed, despite how shitty my mattress was. I was looking forward to hanging out with my friends. But these things could also be found elsewhere–not just Belmar–so I shouldn’t have been that excited to go home. But I’m sorry to say that I was.

As I’ve stated before, I never want to give off the impression that I was unappreciative of my trip and the opportunities and experiences it has given me. It was exhausting and that alone was very consuming. Not to mention the break up, and the ONLY ONE friend traveling with me the entire time.

Now, almost a year later, I look back at my roadtrip with a complete romanticized version of it; I remember feeling shitty in certain places at certain times, but now I think I see it with rose-colored glasses. Which, I admit, is kind of weird. I crave the travel life again.

So when I actually got to the dumb, small town that I call home, I actually texted Julian. I told him I didn’t know why I felt the need to tell him that I was home, but I just wanted to tell him that really badly. I think part of me hoped it would change something in him. And I can’t remember how we ended our very brief conversation, but it was on good terms.

A month later, I was suddenly on not so good terms. I happened to discover that he had a girlfriend. I blew up on him very aggressively, saying that he lied to me that night we argued while I was in Las Vegas. He said he didn’t and that they had only just started dating. After long back-and-forth, we ended on good terms, with me joking that I wasn’t crazy. And that was the last time I ever talked to him.

So why do I mention Julian so much throughout these travel posts? And more importantly, why am I bringing him up in my final post when everything is over and it doesn’t really matter or affect my homecoming? Well, one, the point of ALL of these posts was to show my daily living in diary-like entries. To mark what actually happened on my trip. But two, I think I’m realizing now:

In the beginning of my travels, even when I was stuck in LA, no matter how frazzled, or messy, or all-over-the-place I felt, no matter what state I was in or how long I was traveling, Julian was my stability. That constant communication that we had grounded me, securing me with love, and comfort of knowing I was loved, and feeling loved. And on my birthday in Orlando, I missed Jess, Bobby, and my family the most, because they were my stability and love and support on my birthday each year in my past. And after Julian broke up with me, what stability did I have? That’s why my Northeast posts are all so upsetting and sad: I was with new faces nearly each night, no matter how well I knew them or not, it wasn’t consistent. And that’s why he wasn’t talked about much in my posts after that All-American Rejects concert in Indiana. The music became my stability between them, Circa Survive, and OK Go. After that, I just got cranky and anxious to get home.

And once I was home, I was settled again. I had that stability.

And it’s not that I can’t handle the inconsistencies of travel-life. It’s not that the grass is always greener. It’s not that I need stability of jobs, bed, home, etc. It’s just that you need to have those real, solid connections. Whether with friends, music, or to the city itself, you need to actually be able to immerse yourself in the thick of it. Why the hell would  Ohio be one of my more fun states? Because I had such good friends there properly showing me the Columbus or Cleveland way. I never expected St. Louis to be so fantastic, but we explored it in ways we couldn’t have imagined without weird resources on the back burner.

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So if you’re gonna take a trip–any trip–remind yourself: quality, not quantity. So I didn’t see the transcontinental 48 states, pshh. I can guarantee you, that when I finish up my remaining states (whenever that may be): it’s gonna be done really well. It’s not necessarily that organization is key. It’s the ability for connection and immersion. Within you, and without you.

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Days Traveled, Unraveled: Arkansas and Oklahoma

After a couple of surprisingly exciting days in Missouri, there was only one reach of hope nearby: some quidditch kids in Arkansas. Without them, we probably would have spent our next few days lost and extra-broke, or in Louisiana yet again out of desperation in need of a place to stay.

Thankfully I’m good at making internet friends, because the year prior, this kid from an Arkansas quidditch team posted on Syracuse’s quidditch team’s Facebook saying we were really nice at the World Cup and wanted to befriend us. Although I had not been in school that semester, I messaged him back saying that I wasn’t in school nor at the World Cup, but if he ever found himself in New Jersey, I could always help him out, and that I’d still like to be Facebook friends. So when I messaged him in desperation of shelter, I was relieved to hear he and his girlfriend say yes.

This was the only drive apart from Mississppi where I needed to pull over and sleep. Maybe Missouri had me riled up too much. Maybe I was just still anxious and tired from everything going on in my life. Or maybe that drive to Arkansas was boring and long. But towards the end of the drive with a sunset to our left of the winding valley roads, Arkansas proved to be a little prettier than I expected a hick-state to be.

And even without having any friendship history apart from the occasional facebook status read, Justin and Mandi served us greatly with casual Southern hospitality. If they were bothered by us freeloaders for a couple of nights, I will never know it, because they were friendly and warm and had pets for Mely and I to focus on and talk about. Not to mention we all had a love of Harry Potter. It always pleases me most to see fictional or distant worlds coming together in a loving way. And that’s what Arkansas represented to us.

They bought us a pizza and soda, we watched some TV, and fell asleep. We planned on using our next day to do some Arkansas touristy explorin’, even if it were some goofy town like Belmar, NJ, but even the Arkansans didn’t have any recommendations. Again, Mely and I realized that even the locals in these Midwestern states didn’t have anything to show.

They admitted there was nothing to do in the hick states, but rent was cheap. Living was cheaper than any other state we’d seen, but it was clear why. I tried deciphering if I would ever move out to the middle of nowhere, just for cheaper living; I would not. But I gave them props. And it’s probably one of the main reasons they joined quidditch to begin with!

So with no plans or attractions for Arkansas, we decided to have ourselves another rest day. The laziness in me was consuming. I couldn’t figure out if it was depression or laziness since these are my worst attributes, but hardly recognizable until it’s too late. Justin and Mandi still had much to do and they carried on with their lives while Mely and I tried figuring out how to go about our next few days. We didn’t even have a place to stay after Arkansas, but Justin said he’d try to help us out with some of his Stillwater, OK quidditch friends–just no guarantees.

I did have a “friend” in Stillwater that I “met” online through The All-American Rejects, but she was not getting back to me at all. Under the assumption she did not want to house us, I eventually dropped it–though it would have been cool. So instead, Justin’s friend Amy offered us an extra room at her place. Thank goodness!

So early the next morning, we said our goodbyes to our new Arkansan friends, and headed west for a new Oklahoman friend. It might be surprising to a lot that Stillwater, OK was already a city I had visited, purely to visit the hometown of The All-American Rejects. Their first DVD, Too Bad For Hell, featured them breaking into their old high school, a trip to Sonic, and home visits. So when 14-year-old me got the chance to drive through Oklahoma, I asked my mom to find the high school and a Sonic.

But this time, Mely and I weren’t there to relive some band’s memories. Apparently, we were there to eat at an Olive Garden, since it had been a topic of “fancy meal” discussion so often on our road trip. To eat at this Olive Garden was to treat ourselves–we had made it this far on our road trip and almost finished. It was feeling long, now. Being so close to LA just gave us a new goal. Just finish. Just a few more states. We knew we had a week or so left. Mely had a concert on April 17 in Vegas and then home. It might have been my day in Arkansas when I bought my plane ticket home from LA for the 21st.

So after our filling meal of Olive Garden, Amy still wasn’t ready for us. Mely and I got some work done at a Panera since the entirety of Stillwater seemed to be packed into a tiny Starbucks location. And eventually we made it Amy’s. Amy had actually been originally from New Jersey. And really liked Sailor Moon like Mely. And she had a cat for us to play with. So we were immediately comfortable even though we knew less about her than we did Justin and Mandi. Amy had an extra room for us, so we spent the night inside watching Sailor Moon and eating Olive Garden leftovers.

Next thing we knew, we were just one day closer to home. And this is how we began to see the remainder of our roadtrip: a countdown. Just like how I used to count down before the road trip. And although we were both excited to find a stable place, we were also surprised the end was near. It had gone just as slow as it had gone fast. Which I know makes no sense, but traveling can be a weird time-warp, especially when changing time zones.

Though we kept talking about our road trip’s end, the last week was probably the most dragged out. And I wasn’t getting homesick, I was just getting sick of being on the road with ONE person at all times. Though we had new sights every day, and as exhausting as it was to constantly be on the move, I needed a change of scene with a change of buddy now. I was getting snippier and anxious.

But we still had Colorado next.

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Days Traveled, Unraveled: Los Angeles

My time in L.A.

Frustrating. Scary. Eye-opening. Upsetting. Dismal. Yet everyone looked at me like I was some superstar. I was this 21-year-old trekking life and the country, and opening the outdoors not only for myself, but supposedly giving people a window to see something so ballsy and exciting–something everyone else wanted, too. Road trip to the continental 48 states of America.

The first week in LA was normal, expected, and fine while I stayed at Mely’s place–my friend and travel buddy. I got to see a Quidditch friend from New York! I saw my good friend Ali for the first time in two years. I went to Disneyland. I sat in the 70 degree Californian sun on the beach (applying sunblock every 20 minutes) and didn’t have any ties. LA seemed like options were available for me everywhere.

Then we weren’t leaving the day I thought. Then I had to watch my wallet even more closely. Then I had to find transportation just to get to public transportation. Then my cat wasn’t doing well in a new environment back home in New Jersey. Then the start date for our road trip was delayed even more due to transportation options. Then we were told we had no transportation and couldn’t go at all.

Doubt seeped through my mind. LA was no longer a fairy tale or an endless vacation. I once said I loved LA. Why did I love it then? What the fuck is this place?!

LA traffic is awful–and I fucking drive through New York City sometimes! There’s no roadwork, construction, or accidents, people just brake for no reason! And how dare I cross the street while there’s a red blinking hand, even when the STREET is an entire ghost TOWN. And if you aren’t a somebody in LA, then you feel like shit.

It was consistent sunny weather all the time while New Jersey got its first, real snowfall. I loved seasons. I actually hate the sun, I’m a vampire. I was confined with too much time to myself and constantly wept to my “boy-thing” (not as official as boyfriend, but essentially a boy friend) for comfort 3,000 miles away.

After Mely’s dad told us now that we can’t go on the trip now, Mely and I sat in silence for a good minute. In those 60 seconds, I pictured an entirely new life that I had not even imagined several minutes beforehand: OK, so I guess I’ll go back home, I’ll have to tell everyone it didn’t work out. But I’ll use my savings to fix my car and I’ll get to see my boy-thing again. I’ll be with family instead of learning things about my dead brother’s case via text. I’ll take care of my cat. I’ll work again. I won’t have to worry about my taxes while traveling, because I’ll be home. I’ll find an apartment. I’ll focus on going back to school. I have to tell everyone it didn’t work out. I’ll have to give the contributors back their money. I’ll do this road trip after I graduate…

Looking back, I actually don’t know when these thoughts ended, nor how. I probably failed at trying to hold back some tears while Mely told me that we ARE doing this road trip NOW. We figured out a couple of back-up plans. But even that took two more weeks.

I rollercoastered between excited/fine/motivated/young to sad/lonely/loser-like/dependent/nervous nearly DAILY. I wanted to start my road trip. I wanted to prove people I could do it. I also wanted to see my friends. Once I got that glimpse of a potential life I could have been living back home, I often wondered why I was in LA. I love my car, I want to fix my car, why aren’t I home fixing my car? I just started this relationship-thing, why did I have to be so far away during the beginning?

[Side note: ever since my brother’s fatal accident, I get emotional very quickly. I used to not be able to cry, and now I cry all the damn time whether it’s related to him or not. I like crying, but I’ll save that for another blog post.]

I often reminded myself that people always find money when we need it somehow. My car would be there when I got back. And so would my boy-thing. We loved each other and we talked all the time. We were so mushy with our love, I couldn’t even believe it myself. I was proud, excited, and I loved someone. ME. I did. Wow. I still can’t believe that.

Finally, there was no more waiting. Four weeks of LA living and emotional craziness, I would set off for the Grand Canyon. What a great first stop! So….grand! Then again, any first stop would have been grand to me. Real excitement finally set in. And my dreams, my goals were finally beginning.

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