There were boxes everywhere. That’s what happens when you move; boxes and suitcases and covered furniture. I was ready for the movers to get here so I could get on the road. The drive was going to be a long one and I wanted to get at least to Atlanta tonight. Nine hours was totally doable in one day. I didn’t have to be in California for two weeks and had stops to make along the way. I was taking the long route across Louisiana and Texas and eventually up the California coast to my new home in the East Bay. I knew no one there but didn’t care.
I had never intended to stay in Virginia as long as I had. I could lie and pretend that my job was what kept me here but as lame as it sounds, it was actually a guy. We met not too long after I moved here for my job and had been together for four years. He was exactly the kind of guy I imagined I spend the rest of my life with; funny, smart, and kind. We had a ton in common and everyone thought we were perfect for one another and would have perfect, cool babies who liked David Bowie, Star Wars, and Michael Penn straight out of the womb.
That did not happen. My “perfect match” was a perfect jackass. After we moved in together, we got engaged and had started planning a low-key, very us wedding. We were at a cake tasting and he turned to me and said, “I don’t think I can do this.” Being me, I thought he meant the cake tasting. He had meant the wedding. He didn’t want to get married. He didn’t want to live together. He didn’t want to be with me. He had only done those things because he thought that’s what I wanted. He never thought to ask me.
I decided that the only sensible thing to do was to leave town. I didn’t want to be reminded of the places we went together or had found together. I didn’t want to run into him at the farmer’s market in our neighborhood (when he moved out, he stayed in the neighborhood). I didn’t want to run into him with someone new. I wanted to start over again. That was the only way that I could move on with my life.
My small circle of friends thought I was crazy. They didn’t understand why I had to leave town to get over a guy. I tried to explain that it wasn’t just the guy (although four years of my life had been spent with someone I thought was the one); it was me. I needed to do this for me. I needed to try somewhere new and start again. I had lived on the East Coast for a long time and decided it was time to see if I was a California girl. I wanted my life to be more colorful and exciting than it was. I needed a change.
The movers finally arrived. It took them exactly two hours to load all of of my worldly possessions into the moving truck. I tipped the guys and gave them waters for the road. My stuff would get there right after I did so. This was all going to work out.
A few of my friends had come to see me off. I was going to miss them a lot but the beauty of life in the modern age is that we’re connected to one another no matter where we are. I promised to check in with them along the way. They planned to visit me in the fall once I got settled.
I got into my trusty Ford Escape and started my way south. I love road trips. Just me, my car, my music, and the open road. I had spent a few days before leaving preparing an epic mix of songs to get from Virginia to California and all the places in between. Some were sad, some were funny and fun, some matched the location I planned to be in while listening. I had been looking forward to my road trip music as much as I had been looking forward to the trip itself. I had even created a mix including songs that I had listened to with my ex. I felt that by listening to them without him and in a completely new context I would be able to listen to them without being sad. Every song took on new meaning for me; it was like I was hearing them for the first time.
The songs kept me going through the mountains and the vast expanses of nothing that I hit as I drove through parts of Texas and the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona and then up the beautiful California coast. I was seeing parts of the country that I had never seen before. It was overwhelming but exactly what I needed to get myself in the right place for my new life. There’s always a moment when you just feel like what you’re doing is exactly the right thing to do. I felt that so many times on this trip. And I knew that I was on my way.
(Based on the prompt "(Play a piece of music without revealing the artist or title.) Write something that goes along with this soundtrack.") The song is "On Your Way" by Michael Penn. Also, this is not autobiographical.