We just returned, Wife and I, from a ten-day road trip to Norway. Home, after so many days on the road, feels like just another overnight shelter; I could begin to drive again tomorrow. When this feeling subsides, usually in a day or two, I know the opposite desire will set in: we won’t move for a while.
A road trip can do things to you. It opens you up. Predictability goes out of the window. Surprise waits around each corner. The start may be shaky, but you pick up rhythm as you go. You get lots of time to think, to talk with your companion, to be together. It can lead to deep conversations, on matters you would not bring up on a normal working day (Not enough time) or on a weekend (Don’t want to ruin it). Ideas emerge. You want to start that project you’ve been thinking about.
A road trip is both fleeting and continuous. (Like life itself? I wonder, still in that thoughtful frame of mind.) You may love a place, but you cannot stay too long. You may resolve to come back, but will that happen? After a while memories of days blur and merge into one other. Even the linen in your hotel room seems identical to the day before. You look for external events to mark your journey: a wedding in London covered relentlessly on TV, a refugee crisis between France and Italy, a theft of 70 million users’s personal data.
And after it is all over, when you are back where you started from, you begin to wonder if it was for real. Or was it all an illusion? But that can’t be. Because there are stories to tell. And words and pictures to tell them with. In the end, that’s what makes us real.