American Beauty

Holidailies Writing Prompt: “Tell us your best road trip story”

Now that would be October 24 and October 25, 1999 when we decided on a whim to drive back to Washington, D.C. from Tulsa, Oklahoma in 24 hours.

Those links go to the play by play entries I wrote back at the time that we took the road trip, they’re pretty descriptive, though amusingly peppered with many a “lastward” or “switchlast” that ought to be “backward” and “switchback” because in those old hand-coded entries I changed my back/next navigation to next/last and then back and I ran that change on the entirety of my journal files before I realized it and by the time I figured out what had happened I’d written a bunch of other entries that precluded a mass change of words. I’ve always meant to go back through and correct those entries by hand, but somehow, the time has always escaped me.

It’s interesting to re-read those older entries because my impressions of the trip have shifted slightly over time through the weight of distance and lost memory hastened by five years’ worth of parenthood-induced sleep deprivation. What’s stayed with me is the mind’s eye view of the landscape, the distinct impression of the bite in the air as we were a month into autumn and frost was on the ground throughout our route back to D.C. and there was snow on the heights in West Virginia. The contrasts of light and shadow, bright leaves and dun ground, the banner blue of the Oklahoma sky haven’t changed in my memory.

The details have slipped though. I don’t remember Sabs saying that he felt that he’d used up all of his good flights and that’s why he wanted to drive. I only remember feeling blown away by the film, “American Beauty” and the message of looking for the simple moments of beauty in life and that being the reason why we drove. We were on a mission to see America, parts of America that we’d never seen before, to capture those moments of beauty and make a memory to last a lifetime.

Seven years later it still is a special memory. It’s a recollection of a time when Sabs and I were younger and more carefree, still sorting ourselves out and having fun being a young couple. We enjoyed a lot of good food on that trip. In fact as I let my mind drift through memory and find confirmation in other journal entries, food is a stand out presence. We like good food and it’s a cornerstone of our relationship whether we’re enjoying a meal out or cooking together at home.

We got lost a little on that road trip through the fields of Illinois and Indiana and in the mountains of West Virginia but we found our way out again and made it home safely with a minute or two to spare on our deadline set by the car rental company. We’ve lost our way a little in other ways since then, but I’m regaining my faith that we’ll make our way out again in these things too.