One thing that has always held me back is someone asking me why I want to do something. I understand a lot of it is just plain curiosity with no underlying nasty-ass motive, though for me there has been a fair amount of questioning that did have nasty and cruel undertones and motives. But those motives aren’t mine to deal with and if someone is butt-hurt over that, that’s on them and not me.
The question here is: am I running from something, or to something?
The answer is both.
The call of the road is running from pain, trauma, and past humiliating bullshit. It’s trying to get away from the memories and old voices I know I will never completely silence. It’s running from mistakes, missed opportunities, and lack of confidence and care for myself. It’s running from expectations that were never mine to live up to, or fail at.
On the road I know I’m running to calm, healing, and happiness. Because on the road I won’t need much to live on so that huge sword of scraping out a living won’t be there for me to live under like it is now. No one will know me or my story unless I choose to tell it so there are no expectations on the table set out for me. And I’ll be seeing new places and meeting new people with no preconceived notions or again, expectations.
I’ve read three very different stories by three very different women in different time periods who chunked it all and hit the road in their own way. Each story resonate strongly within me and I understand why each woman did what she did. So here’s a little recommended reading if you’re truly puzzled as to why I want to hit the road on my own:
(Book titles highlighted in blue are links to Amazon.com if you want to read any of them, and all three have been made into movies that are very good adaptations)
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. Probably the best-known of the three books though ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed was a big best-seller, too. It’s Elizabeth’s story of traveling the world on a $250,000 book advance she got after her long and drawn-out divorce. First, she traveled to Italy and learned to be good to herself and to embrace pleasure in yes, food (trust me, I’d eat my way through Italy too if I ever went there). Then she went to India and there had her ‘dak night of the soul’ and finally, she ended up in Bali finding love (though her marriage later tanked- which sort of bummed me out). Her divorce brought out the fact she didn’t want to be a nice little suburban housewife giving it all up for her husband’s career (and probably getting dumped later in life like a lot of these women eventually do).
‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed hit closer to home for me because it’s Chery’s story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother died when she was twenty-two years old, and she descended into heroin addiction. On the trail, Cheryl worked through grief and trauma and faced her fears in order to figure out how she wanted to live her life. I’ve done a lot of that on my own though I know there is more of that for me to work through (which I know I’ll do when I get hot-and-heavy on writing my book, ‘Breaking Radio Silence’).
‘Tracks’ by Robyn Davidson. This is the least-known of the three books as it was written in the late 1970’s. It’s Robyn’s story of setting out on a trek through the Western Australian desert with four camels when she was around nineteen or so. In her book she tells of expectations for young women in Australia to just settle down and marry and not speak out against anything of matter. Robyn wanted to travel and explore and challenge herself, which she did on her trek and has since become a well-known travel writer. For me, her story was about challenging yourself and doing things you want to and in a way, giving the middle-finger to conventional living.
Now for me I haven’t felt that many expectations set on me but then I threw everyone for a major loop when was twenty-one and decided to become a full-time caregiver to my mother. But then I don’t think anyone really thought I was cut out to be anything ‘normal’ whatever the fuck that is. I tried to establish some semblance of an ‘acceptable’ life in my thirties of the quaint single woman which crashed and burned because it was nothing but a flimsy façade. There were times when I wanted to settle down and have kids in my late twenties/early thirties but then I thought, who the hell would have me?
I’m okay with who I am now, and the fact I know I will never have all the answers. I have answers, and a lot of theories I can’t prove. And if anyone is dumb enough to try and tell me what to do… they’re just going to get a slight head-tilt followed by one word, “Really?”
But I do know one thing: I know what I’m running away from, and what I’m running to. And that is what the road is calling me for.
And here’s my GoFundMe link if you want to chip in on this little adventure.