The Road Trip
After completing the 1500 mile drive from Dallas to Los Angeles for the fourth time in July 2005, I vowed to never do that drive again. As much as I adore Texas and as much as I loved Simon, I stated that flying would be the only acceptable transportation method for any future trips between the Golden and Lone Star states.
Last weekend, almost ten years after that vow, I spent three days in a maroon Ford F-150 cruising on I-20 then I-10 from Dallas to Los Angeles. Loss and love can change a mindset. Even a stubborn mindset. I never thought I would do that drive again. But I also never thought I’d be a widow at 34. And I also never thought I’d be dating a friend of my late husband’s and helping him move west as we navigate this new relationship.
The trip went smoothly in spite of wild weather – freezing sleet the first night, seven inches of snow the next morning, and icy roads the first afternoon. Every hour west produced warmer temperatures. By the time we crossed the California state line, our jackets had been packed away and there was abundant sunshine. The rental trailer blew a tire in who-knows-where, New Mexico, but the new man had purchased accident insurance. We were back on the road within 30 minutes of calling for assistance. Weather and blown tire aside, it was a lovely trip. The power of smart phones allowed us to find local restaurants, avoid traffic delays, and secure pet friendly lodging to accommodate our slightly nervous yet excited Rhodesian Ridgeback travel buddy.
It felt oddly therapeutic as each mile marker passed. Traveling those familiar highways evoked many sweet memories of Simon. There was plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of time to reflect on what my life was, what it is right now, and what is to come. There were tears as I was forced to face the reality (again and again) that Simon is gone and that he’ll never do this 24 hour drive with me or our kids. At most of the meals out, I found myself ordering foods he would have liked. He loved all thing sour, fermented, spicy, or pungent. Dishes included wasabi mashed potatoes, salad with ginger dressing, pickled beets, spicy mustard, and a sour lime cocktail.
Upon arrival in Los Angeles, we went out for the evening with friends to decompress and celebrate freedom from the confines of leather seats and enclosed spaces. One of those friends had accompanied Simon and I on that familiar road trip 10 years earlier. It was emotional reflecting on all that we have been through, but that’s what makes friendship the sacred bond that it is.
There is joy and hope with each new day, just like the bright sun promises warmth with each mile clocked west.