Google Maps, I love you but you're bringing me down.
I've plugged a lot of destinations into Google Maps over the years. The prospect of a road trip always set my Sagittarian blood afire. Travel always brought the promise of adventure, new things to see and do, interesting people, and a ton of shit to instagram, had there been such a thing when I started this fantastic voyage almost a decade ago.
I graduated from college knowing that I wanted to Go West (life is peaceful there, in the open air, where the skies are blue). I had just gotten Cooper, and I was going to hit the road in my Jeep with my dog and live the dream - there is something just so inherently American about a road trip. Fresh out of school, my head was full days on the river and weekends in the mountains. I had a duffel bag full of Patagonia, a new pair of Chacos (and my degree, though seemingly less important) and I was on my way. Yeah, Google Maps (er, it may have still been MapQuest back in the day). Let's drive 2000 miles! We're headed out west!
Well, things didn't go as planned, and I was right back where I started, kind of. With some detours. And then, 2 years later, COLORADO! And then, North Carolina (again) and Baltimore. But I got the itch once more, and... COLORADO! This time, it felt like home and I certainly thought it would stick. 14ers, music, microbrews, yoga... yep. I would stay.
And I stayed, for a while. After two years I thought I had it pretty good. I was jamming on the yoga scene. I was involved in community events. I knew everyone at the coffee shop. Bartenders hooked it up and my friends were pretty rad. And then, in a moment, it was all over. The universe had other plans for me, I supposed. I made a slightly less dramatic move back to Bozeman. I didn't need Google Maps to get there, but it provided a nice visual for my epic Loop of Failure. Seriously, I felt like I was running (driving) in a huge circle. So much backtracking and repetition, and for what? To end up right where I had been in the summer of 2003. Somehow, though I told everyone I was on to the next adventure (!) this seemed lame.
One step forward, 4000 steps all over the damn place. Were these mistakes? Was I lost? Had my Sagittarian compass deserted me? Was I no longer adventuring, but wandering aimlessly, back and forth between places I already knew, terrified of settling down? And then, yogic epiphany.
All experience is useful, everything is progress.
Uh, the mileage on my car says differently.
"All experience is useful."
Well, my resume has certainly improved, I have a Master's degree, I'm a yoga teacher and I'm really good at living out of a (really small) car (so the yoga comes in handy in more ways than one).
"Everything is progress."
If I really look, I made every decision to the best of my abilities at the time. Or, to quote Paula Abdul:
When things go wrong we make corrections to keep things moving in the right direction, try to fight it but I'm telling you, Jack, it's true, this, Opposites Attract.
The first part makes sense. Things change and we adjust. The second part, really just for context. But it has me wondering, where are we going? Do we ever really know? I've certainly made it happen when I had to, but I feel like the man upstairs is going to do what he's going to do, so maybe the best course is really just the path of least resistance. And for the last month, that's been bed > sofa > food > porch > food > ponds > porch > food > sofa > bed.
But I woke up this past Monday and for the first time since Cooper died, I wanted to get off the sofa. I was antsy. But where to go? My folks in Seattle had plans. Friends were coming through on their way to the Gorge, but was a festival what I needed? I didn't want to go back to Colorado. The East Coast... with the exception of my friend Mike's kitchen table... meh.
A phone call. "Dude, what are you doing?!" my friend Devon demanded. "This is not the plan. Montana is not the plan. When are you coming to California? We need to decorate my apartment."
California. Sunny. The West Coast. Never been there. All my woo-woo education, this might be something. The prospect of an undecorated apartment and limitless DIY opportunities. California...
I plugged it into Google Maps.
Apparently the path of least resistance runs straight through the Utah desert and Las Vegas. Suggested route: 1096 miles, 16 hours 15 minutes. (What does it say about me, that these numbers didn't phase me in the least?)
Los Angeles. The super heady motherland. The aspirational and storied end to every road trip, the Pacific Ocean. On an opposite coast, at the end of what's been a very windy road.
I have no idea what I'm going to find, who I am going to meet or what is going to happen, but I've got a bag full of yoga clothes and a fresh pair of Chucks, and this, this feels like ADVENTURE again! And hopefully the last time I plug anything into Google Maps for a good long while.
And I'm going to Instagram the shit out of L.A.