Written by Abi Humber Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:10
I’m sitting in the backseat of a bright red 1999 Pontiac Grand Am. The sun is bright but the windows are cold. The KU game is on the radio but I’ve got my headphones in, drowning out the crackly AM station with “Noah and the Whale.”
The riveting Missouri countryside is but a blur outside the window, my knee is swollen from being bent for seven hours, I have bedhead that would make an anime character jealous and piles of pillows/blankets/coats/backpacks/shoes are pinning me against the door.
I could not be happier.
Road trips are the best, especially when they’re spur-of-the-moment. My parents don’t know it yet, but in five hours, I’ll be ringing their doorbell. Just this morning (Sunday), I decided to crash the last leg of Becky Steketee’s spring break road trip and hitch a ride from Chicago to Hillsboro.
She and two friends spent Saturday night, the finale of their weeklong adventure, in Chicago. We barely slept for all the laughing and storytelling, but managed to drag ourselves out of bed at six to catch the sunrise at the beach.
Amid Lake Michigan’s iced tree branches, soaring seagulls and rolling waves, I found myself scheming without the slightest sense of responsibility or rationality. It was Sunday morning and my weekend was coming to a close, but I was itching to start an adventure.
Before I say more, I should clarify that I’m not being an entirely irresponsible student; half of my classes for the next week have been canceled and I brought enough homework to keep me busy for at least 11 years. I just needed a change of scenery and a taste of home, that’s all.
I chose to stay in Chicago for my spring break (two weeks ago), but found that I missed my family and, to be honest, simply felt I needed to come home for a few days. I guess we’ll see how it all plays out.
So, at 8 a.m., with the big city behind and the Great Plains ahead, the four of us began the journey home.
As the boys slumbered peacefully in the backseat for the first five hours of the drive, Becky and I played a game where we described our “dream lives.” She and I have become such close friends largely because of the similarities within our personalities—we just get each other, you know? It was no surprise that our dream lives were incredibly similar, but still fun to think and talk about.
Each of us said we wanted the freedom to roam. We want to have lives flexible enough to up and go on a trip, to travel around, to experience new things and learn along the way with the people we love. We both have expressed that we’d rather spend money on experiences than things.
In that moment, as Jack’s Mannequin’s soft melodies drifted through the speakers, Andrew read a complicated philosophy book, J.J. snored softly, Becky sipped her peppermint mocha, and I realized I was still wearing yesterday’s clothes, a big, happy feeling swelled up in my chest. I felt like I was living a sliver of that dream, just up and leaving Chicago on a whim to come home.
I do realize the life I’m dreaming of appears to be free from both responsibility and negative consequence... and, therefore, might realistically remain a figment of my imagination. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish it were real.
I also realize there are fine lines between spontaneity and irresponsibility, and having an adventurous spirit and lacking discipline. I know that life won’t always “work” with this much impulsivity, but I’d like to think that—this week, at least—it can.
“All good things are wild and free.”