I love road trips. Flying is nice and saves time, but to me, nothing beats hitting the road. When I was young, my parents took us on a yearly road trip to Washington to visit my cousins. It was a 24-hour drive that we usually split into three 8-hour days. I’ve seen most of the western United States by car — as far east as Wyoming. I consider myself a road trip veteran.
When I met Marshall I was seventeen and he was eighteen, and on the night we met I vividly remember being attracted to the way he drove. He was confident but not reckless. He looked natural at the wheel, with his hands at ten and two. He made me feel safe. I had no idea then that that ride from Baskin Robbins to my house would be the first of many many miles in his 4Runner that I affectionately call his “toy car.”
Last weekend we drove a couple hours north to camp at Lopez Lake with my family. It was a perfectly restful weekend — the weather was just chilly enough to enjoy being by the fire, I got to finish reading the book I’ve been working on (Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, for the record), and it was a rare chance for us, especially Marshall, to just relax.
When we left the campsite on Sunday, Marshall turned to me and asked, “Do you want to take the long way home?” Yes. The answer is always yes.
It was a gorgeous day with the most impressive clouds. We stopped at a pistachio farm in Cuyama for a break and a snack.
We drove along empty roads where the sky was bigger than usual, listened to Noah and the Whale, and talked about nothing. It’s peaceful to watch the world go by in a car, where you are both separate from and part of the landscape all at once. It makes me feel connected to the world I live in when the windows are down and the sun is on my skin. But most of all, it makes me feel like I made the right choice when I look at the driver’s seat and see him there, with his hands at ten and two. I found someone who loves me, who tolerates my endless photo-taking and car-harmonizing (carmonizing?) and doesn’t get mad or impatient when I need another bathroom stop. I found someone who likes taking the long way just as much as I do. I am blessed beyond measure.