I, like many others, have numerous and conflicting dreams; I want to live the American dream with the white picket fence complete with garden gate, beautiful home, and loving family. I feel called towards being a mother and a wife, lovingly sliding sandwiches into plastic baggies and tucking sweet notes into my future husband’s coat pocket before he walks out the door. I hope to be like my mother and have my little girl sit on my bed watching me in the mirror while I put on my face and brush out my hair to teach her pride in herself. I see my children having a wonderful relationship with their grandparents, going over to be spoiled and do things they don’t get to do at home. But there is a part of me that resents this stereotypical life for fear of being inadequate and out of control.
While this retro view of family is lovely, I am also attracted to the Beat life, the Jack Kerouac experience. If I were to be locked down into the nuclear family before I got to experience the world I would be heartbroken that I never was able to relax, disconnect with the material, and just drive toward the sun. On a few occasions, I have driven with no destination, no map, and no schedule. I felt no anxiety or pressure, which by itself was freeing, but in combination with rolled down windows and beautiful music playing, it was both satisfying and hungering. So hungering in fact that it eats at my mind, forcing me to take the long way home and go on random, secret drives through the country, just to quiet it down.
I know one day my little excursions will not be enough to quiet my curiosity, I will have to pick up and leave, hopefully, with a companion who could play acoustic guitar and sing with me as we drove wherever the road took us. I want to see America and her many cultural pockets, biomes, and her people. I want to see what made colonists and explorers so enchanted, and I want to feel like I belong to a community much larger than the sleepy little town I, my mother, my grandfather, and my great grandparents have lived in. While on my trip, I want to crouch down and put my hands on the earth at every stop, in every state to feel its texture and warmth, from the deserts in White Sands, to the pine-strewn carpet in California’s Sequoia forest, and to the wet and rocky cliffs in Maine.
The pain of pushing on day after day becomes too much sometimes; it forces me to lie on the floor and float in the hurt of it all. I feel inadequate as a person and particularly as a woman, struggling with infertility issues and fighting depression and anxiety. When these episodes come on, I mentally get on the road. I can see a place so flat the curve of the earth is the only thing lying on the horizon; it is an hour or so out from sunset and the sky is glowing. I am in the driver’s seat letting my hair fly around my face and dance in the wind coming in from the open windows and sunroof. In the passenger’s seat is a boy with a cheerful face, grinning and strumming a guitar, singing with a voice like my father’s, full of soul and still very clear, the voice of America. I know what I ate, the outfit I had on, the color of the car, and every single crack on the road we were riding on, the scene I have is so detailed that it is on the line between something imagined and something remembered from an earlier time, though I know it hasn’t happened.
It is very important that I take this path. That I turn the hours spent dreaming about it and running through my short vision on repeat into reality, it has always brought a smile to my heart. My journey would feel disappointingly incomplete if I were to settle into a domestic rut without stepping out and feeling the embrace of the world. Looking out over water and at pictures of the far reaches of outer space never fails to make me feel cold, depressed, and lonely, while gazing across land, knowing that for thousands of miles farther than what I can see with my own eyes, it stretches on, has always been incredibly comforting. Like Simon & Garfunkel said, “I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet, yes I would, if I only could, I surely would.”