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Just a Boy & His Subaru

On a Journey to Find Themselves

Tag Archives: cross-country

When you’re not careful, life gets away from you.

The things that you enjoy doing, the things that make you happy, take a back seat to stress, worry and other very similar unproductive attitudes. You fall into bad habits and your mind travels to deep corners of obsession.

In this sense, I’m accident prone.

It’s not that I don’t know what makes me happy, I know exactly what gives me a sense of balance and accomplishment. That’s not to say I can efficiently tune out the world at all times to refocus, and, to be honest, with the way the last seven months of my life have gone, the world sometimes gets pretty damn loud.

This last month has been rough. Not the kind of rough where you sigh in relief that it has ended, the kind of rough where you’re scraping your knees to get to the end, wondering how it will ever end.

When I first got to Colorado, I was riding a massive life high. There had been so many changes and developments that I never once had to truly think about what was actually happening in my life. Everything felt so normal and natural that a large part of me naively thought the worst was over. I mean, I had already cried over leaving my partner, I penciled in time to not leave the bed and sulk over the things in life I no longer had control over, so surely the worst was behind me. Hell, I had even successfully moved more than half way across the continent, so as far as I was concerned it was all smooth sailing from here.

Then there was this one Wednesday when I was washing the dishes, windows open and feeling great after a much-needed yoga session and protein shake, that I broke.

If there were any better way to describe that day, it would be through audio. (Maybe I should consider podcasts)

There was no rhyme or reason, no obvious precursor for the events that were about to take place, just a little itch in the back of my throat right before the dam burst open. When I use that metaphor I intend for it represent the (very literally) hours of crying that ensued that Wednesday. Nothing could hold it back. At one point, in a state of desperation, I ran a bath with “stress-fix” salts, only to find myself sobbing after the first deep breath. It was a dam.

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I awoke in the middle of the night, just a couple of hours after resting my head on the pillow, in a frightened state.

After being awake for nearly 24 hours, 14 of which were spent in the car and nearly six in a blizzard, my partner in crime was losing her cool. It wasn’t her fault, I’d drugged her with a Vyvanse to keep her awake and lively on the journey.

If you’re unfamiliar with Vyvanse, it’s designed for those with ADHD to help them concentrate. If you don’t happen to have ADHD, you’re essentially wired and overly focused on the world around you. It comes in handy when you’re making long, monotonous journeys across states like Nebraska and Iowa.

The downside? Like any other drug, your body has to come down from the high. It also curbs your appetite, so when you come down you’re hungry, cranky, exhausted and want to sleep, but sometimes you just can’t.

Naturally we wanted to get on the road as soon as possible. It was only a few days before Christmas and we were sure traffic would be heavy. Gretchen was working until 5pm, so the original plan was for me to sleep during the day and drive the first shift while Gretchen slept until I got too tired. It would require driving overnight through Nebraska and Iowa on I-80.

If you’ve never driven across Nebraska and Iowa on I-80, I encourage you to do so, then read this over again.

Our families had warned us that they were calling for blizzard conditions in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. We had been watching the weather religiously, and although in retrospect all we had done was convince each other that we’d be fine, we didn’t see any reason not to make the 14 hour trip. Besides, our families both worry too much. We were driving the Subaru, we had packed blankets and jugs of water, we’d be fine, we were prepared.

In what seemed like an initial blessing on the trip, Gretchen was allowed to leave work early, putting us on the road at 2:30pm. The excitement of our first road trip together was enough adrenaline to get us through the first two hours. Then we were both over it.

Insert Vyvanse here.

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When I was a young boy, about the age of seven, my family and I were visiting my grandmother for her birthday. Typically the youngest in the group, I could be found outside playing with her beagle, Jake. On this particular day, when adult banter became too much for my tiny brain to tolerate, I went to run around with Jake and found him dead in his dog house.

In my memory, this was my first encounter with death.

The last thing I wanted to do was run inside and tell my grandmother that her dog had died on her birthday. It’s what I did though.

My grandmother was devastated. They had been inseparable for as I’d been on this earth, and since she lived alone, he gave her a sense of a purpose (something we all need). I’d not seen so many people in one room cry, and at such an intensity; Jake was a good dog that we all had fallen in love with. No one was taking it as hard as my grandmother.

My mother made arrangements to stay a few extra days in case my grandmother needed the company.

There’s never a good time for life to happen, it just happens. When it does, you can look the other way or you can handle the situation.

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Well guys, keeping up with this blog while trying to escape life has been more difficult than I anticipated!

I’m going to pull it together, I promise. I’ve been hiding in Chicago since Saturday enjoying the moment as best I can. Each day has been a bit better, but I can’t say my heart doesn’t still hurt.

Driving into the sunset was the highlight of my departure. Until that point, the weather was as gray and gloomy as my mood. There was something about seeing the sun force its way through the clouds that resonated with me. No matter how hard someone tries to steal your sunshine, it’s still there.

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Next stop: Mom’s house.

Once I’m there I’ll add some pictures that I’ve taken along the way documenting the journey. I’m trying to remember to catch everything.

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December 7, 2013, 0900 hours

After much anticipation, my journey officially begins tomorrow morning.

Yesterday my tires were delivered and installed, and since that was the missing puzzle piece, there’s no reason not to begin this next chapter. Today I finished a few small packing tasks and tied up various loose ends. The weather didn’t permit me to start packing the car, but after some shut-eye I’m sure I’ll be able to get it packed in the morning in less than an hour (note to self: watch how long it takes you).

Chicago is my first official stop.

As I suspected, all of the emotions from those very first days have resurfaced. Their intensity has yet to be matched, but I have felt notably sensitive today.

In my life, I feel I’ve sometimes been very naïve. Not to any sort of crippling point, but I find myself wanting and believing that the best possible outcome will take place. On top of that, my expectations for people and situations tend to remain unrealistic. How do you not try to see the best in everything and everyone?

This boy’s too young to be singing the blues.

The lesson I’m trying to learn out of this is that you can’t keep worrying about things that are out of your control. You also have to give people the benefit of the doubt, but it’s more important to recognize when someone is showing you their true colors. As cliché as it sounds, my feelings are hurt, and they’re mostly hurt because of someone else’s actions. But honestly, I’m beginning to believe that it’s not the action, it’s me caring about the action. It’s not my business anymore and the sooner I get that in my head, the better.

If I’m correct (and this is my first go-round, so no promises), that last sentence will finally sink in after tomorrow. Being here and watching my ex move on was difficult. It was like a sick form of self-cutting. As evident by last posts, I went back and forth on this. Overall, I’m going to suggest you never do this. It honestly just makes the situation more difficult. I don’t regret it, but if I had to do it over I would likely not. Unless you’re looking for what a friend of mine referred to as, “an unnecessary test of character.” It does make for a better story though (it’s really all about the story).

Well, I suppose it’s time to get going.

Oh, I’ve finally decided my future lies beyond the yellow brick road

Boy, with these new tires the ride down my yellow brick road should be relatively smooth.

 

 

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Normally I would refrain from starting out a post with a quote, but it’s just too perfect.

“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”

This is the week, folks. My journey is set to start. I’m finally flying the coop. This is the big moment.

Damn it if it didn’t just sneak up on me.

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One thing I learned very quickly in life is that when it rains, it pours. With that in mind, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came down with a wicked case of strep throat last Monday.

In the middle of job hunting, packing and constructing my itinerary, my body shut down. It was so awful; I can count on one hand the number of times I had the energy to sit upright last week. Plus, if I’m being completely truthful with myself, I forgot that it really is nice to have someone taking care of you when you’re sick. That’s not to say I wasn’t fully capable of nursing myself back to health, I can take care of myself, it’s to say that there’s an added factor of comfort when someone is making sure you get well.

That brings me to the epiphany I had while I was in bed-lock: my ex is not the guy for me; I am not making a mistake. The fact that I could barely drink my water or break my fever didn’t seem to weigh on his decision to go out. Should it have? Should he have been here taking care of me? That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that I’ve realized we are two very, very different people. And while previously I felt that living here with him until I left town was a mistake, I feel now that it has helped solidify my decision to move on with my life.

I still love him, very much, but I can no longer hold him in the same esteem as I previously have. With a full understanding that I see life with a different paradigm, the man that he is displaying himself as now is not a man I would like to be close to me. My goal in life is to surround myself with people who love me unconditionally and care about my feelings and my emotions. There must be a mutual respect. And while I spent some time being angry over how he has acted, I’ve let it go. It serves no purpose in my life. Each time I catch myself feeling angry or sad about the situation or his decisions, I remind myself that we are no longer together and it is no longer my responsibility to worry about him.

I’ll always care, but I can no longer waste my time and energy being sad or upset over someone that doesn’t have a mutual feeling for me.

Don’t take that as a promise that I won’t still have demons to sort out about this whole ordeal when I hit the road, because I’m sure I will, but right now I’m feeling good. So good, in fact, that I’ve officially made my itinerary:

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This week has been one hell of a ride.

Not the ride where you want off right away, either. It was the kind of ride that leaves you thirsty for more, and unable to remove yourself from the coaster seat. Then, just as I’m about to peel myself out of place and exit, I’ve been granted another go around.

Monday was my first day job hunting. Nothing about me was looking forward to how real it all would seem once I began actually plotting my leave. I used my list of favorite things, which, just as I’ve previously mentioned in past posts, was precisely what I needed. Later that day, I talked to my best friend, my sister and future roommate, and I was really amazed at how right making plans was feeling. Just days before, I was feeling useless and broken, like I shouldn’t have made so many big decisions at once and now, how will I deal with them?

But Monday. How often do people talk about loving Mondays? I’ll never forget this past Monday; it serves as the day I understood fully the good I was doing for myself.

Then, to sweeten the deal, I got a call yesterday and had an impromptu interview on the phone. It was great. I hate patting myself on the back too hard, but I was really impressed with my ability to switch to, “I’m so charming and well-spoken, you just have to love me!” mode. And it went well (I think)! We are set to have another phone interview this afternoon. He was even comfortable with the fact that I wasn’t in Denver yet, letting me know that they completely understand. Plus, they’re a small startup doing great things in the world of higher education. I’m all about being a part of something small and impactful.

Plus, my ex, whom I am still residing with until employment falls in line, has been staying out at night, leaving the apartment to me and my thoughts (plus whiskey, Dave and dancing alone). It’s given me time to enjoy the moment without feeling like we need to be speaking. Not that I don’t want to speak to him, but it seems as though it always leads to a conversation about us. And there just isn’t a reason to go there anymore.

I sleep through the night on occasion now when he is not home. At first, him not coming home would just liquify my insides. I was still so attached, and knowing that he was out enjoying himself without me was tough. Now that I’m detaching, and spending enough time away from him to understand that this is just who he is and there isn’t a thing I can do about it, I only feel better about the decision we’ve made.

Some how, I’m learning how to dance. I want to be realistic and understand that I still have to physically pack the car and drive away. I’m in touch enough with my emotions to understand that there are still bumps to come. What I’m finding recently, to my pleasant surprise, is that my overall excitement and desire to be happy are out-weighing the bad.

I’ll take it for now.

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In less that two months, I’ve lost my job and my partner of three years. Our apartment, our cat and our routines are just a few of the things I have to say goodbye to. I’m not good at goodbye, so I thought this might be a good way to face my demons. Did I mention I’d put effort into building the last three years of my life?

In less than a month, I’m packing all of my belongings in my 2007 Subaru Outback and hitting the road. Where? I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but I know that it will come when I get in the car (or at least that’s what my friends are telling me). Though, likely, my end destination will be Denver, CO, my stops will include St. Louis, Chicago, Iowa City, Columbus, New York (in no particular order).

It’s going to be a raw, emotional journey.

Love is stronger than any drug, hell, it is one.

There will be tears, selfies (happy & sad), terrible impressions, random feelings; the equivalent of hormone replacement therapy, I gather.

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