Thankful to be Home on Thanksgiving

An American classic, which sadly no longer exists

Today is Thanksgiving. I am immensely thankful to be home.

We left on July 14, 2015. After 3.5 months on the road, we returned to L.A. on November 2nd.

Was the trip good? I dunno. My feelings are mixed. If pressed for an answer, I would say no (reluctantly), but that’s too simplistic. It fails to represent the nuances of the experience.

The Great American Road Trip is heavily romanticized in pop culture. The idea is inherently enticing: the freedom of the open road, the prospect of adventure, and the hope of rejuvenation. Those cool parts are there indeed, but romances typically sell the happy while ignoring the sucky. People want to report their travels as fun because that is the socially and self expected answer.

All the road trippy things I raved and whined about in my previous post, which dated one month into the tour, still held at the end. Basically, countless beautiful sights and interesting folks, but also plenty of aggravations.

The Skyline Drive, Virginia

Some of the downside were unexpected. I knew I was a homebody. As a kid, I would go away for a weekend and get terribly homesick. But as an adult I had traveled quite a bit, including some long stints abroad, so I thought I'd be okay. 

Not quite. 

The lesson learned: three weeks of staying in one location is different from three weeks of being on the road, and a three week road trip is different from a three month road trip. Size matters. The hairline cracks that one might ignore on a short trip could, on a long one, fissure into grand canyons.

To be fair, much of the road trip experience depends on your personality. At home, I'm a pretty mellow guy. My ability to remain calm under stress is above average. A "foreign" environment challenges that. The endless driving, the daily changes in lodging, the mental discomfort of a strange bed (no matter how physically comfortable the bed is)—they all add up. Some people are more intrepid and better at riding the potholes of the road, whereas I would be a horrible traveling salesman.

Looking back at my past trips, I realize that they were frequently not enjoyable at the time. It was usually long afterward did I appreciate them. Time adds perspective, allowing us to notice subtleties we might've missed before. Also, time is a hand that kneads the dough of time, constantly changing its shape. Finally, perception and judgment are always filtered through our ever-growing experiences. Humans tend to remember and inflate the positives while the bad ones fade. It’s an evolutionarily advantageous trait. If memories of pain never faded, fewer mothers would choose to re-undergo birthing.

Perhaps my memory of the road trip will improve with time, or perhaps not. Ask me again in twenty years. Maybe I’ll have an answer, or maybe not.

No matter how this memory ages, it won’t matter. One’s response to The Great American Road Trip is unpredictable: you won’t know it until you’ve tried it. In that sense, I won’t have regrets. I never would’ve known until I tried. And if I hadn’t tried, I would’ve always wondered about it.

You can't stop trying.

Comments

  1. Congratulations on your homecoming. I balk at the thought of a three-hour trip (and three-hour cruises), so I am impressed you made it at all. :)

    Get some rest :)

    ReplyDelete

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