300 miles today.
The first day is always the hardest. You begrudgingly crawl out of your comfortable bed in your comfortable home to put on your uncomfortable uniform to sit in your car and drive the longest distance, each mile putting you further away from safety, security, and familiarity and towards solitude, quiet, and foreign.
You hope that the time on the road will give you an opportunity to process your thoughts, and maybe the calm of the open road will provide peace and tranquility. But the car in front of you is driving too slowly and the car behind you is riding your ass. The air-conditioner blows cold air directly into your face, drying your eyes, but you can’t turn it off because the sun is glaring through your window and burning your legs. You know you’ve completely left familiar territory when your radio stations become static. You hope your GPS is up to date and that there are no surprise traffic jams. You remember how much you loved the road trip to Philly with her because she chose the music on your Spotify and she held your hand in traffic. You lament the road trips you didn’t get to take, like that convertible rental you were going to get to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway for her birthday. You wanted to learn Norwegian or French; you thought that the hours spent in the car would be a great chance to pop a CD and recite back at your car broken phrases asking where the bathroom is or what time the grocery store closes. But how can you focus on that when you’re driving for the very first time through a state that you’re pretty sure tests its drivers on aggression and spite.
The first day is always the hardest.
But it can’t be that bad if I’m sitting in my chilly hotel room sipping on Thai iced tea.
It can’t be that bad when I find myself in a state where, if you look lost and confused enough inside a mall, a very kind old lady will ask if you’re alright, and when you tell her you’re looking for the store you’re supposed to visit as an ‘expert’, she walks with you and guides you to your destination.
It can’t be that bad if you get to see one of your best friends from high school for dinner and shoot the breeze and catch up and share and laugh and connect.
It can’t be that bad if I don’t let it.
After all, what does it mean to be #committedlysingle if not that you possess the ability to make your own day great? Why should you or I wait for another person to make or break our day? Master the ability to decide the fate of your day before you ever consider allowing someone else to, or more so even, before you ever try to make it for someone else.
I finished my work early today, so I got to take a nap and relax. I contacted a friend in the area and we met up for dinner and, courtesy of the company, it was my treat. I explored a local Asian market and scored a Thai tea with grass jelly. I hit the fitness center and I loved how much I hated it because it meant that a) I was in fact out of shape b) I am doing something about it c) it must be working if I was that much out of my comfort zone and d) I persevered. I made my first day pretty bad ass, actually.
I know I dreaded this trip, and to be honest it’s still an uphill battle. Tomorrow will be quiet and solitary, and I will have dinner by myself. I don’t think Laurel, MD has a large enough Asian population to warrant a market where I can buy myself a bubble tea. I know it’s 1am and I can’t sleep anyways. I find though that there is an invigorating inspiration and incentive to write during my travels. I am for the moment still very much in love with the romantic image of the troubled writer searching for meaning late at night with a strange city outside his window and only the lonely light of a single lamp by his laptop to be his beacon in the dark. I relish in the gesture of leaning back in my chair, taking a long contemplative sip of my drink, and looking over my words. This is a life I never would have imagined for myself but I am embracing and investigating as part of my journey in singlehood and loneliness.
If I write, and you read, perhaps I am less alone on the road then I thought I was.
Man: 7 Loneliness: 2