i feel so small in the west. pinned between the sky and earth like some sort of ant crawling through a giant sandwich. today, the car rocking violently in the cross-winds, reminded me of how vulnerable i felt while crossing the ocean for the first time... as if there was nothing to anchor me and that i am so insignificant... if it were to swallow me... no one would notice.
i think feeling humbled by the earth is very important.
i am lucky. i grew up playing in fields and forests. i would help my dad plant saplings every spring from the DNR. my parents built a log cabin themselves. i learned to fish, pitch a tent and start a fire. i have been camping more times than i can count. i love sleeping on the ground. and every time i go home to visit, i question why i am in the city at all. i become frustrated at times with how so many people are so disconnected from the planet they live on. yes, so many people in the city are ecologists... they recycle and ride their bikes... and yet, they never leave the city. i get itchy in the summertime. the asphalt makes me crave grass and water.
i have a lot of favorite memories associated with crossing this vast country in a car. here are my top few...
- my dad and i driving to beatrice in his firebird (i must have been about 5) ... i can't remember the exact reason for the trip, but i know it was related to the welfare of my great grandparents... i think it was because my great grandfather was sick... and it pertained to that.... i just remember how for the first time i sat in the front seat. we stopped at the gas station before we left town and he let me pick anything i wanted to drink and for snacks... i felt really important and grown up. he made me the navigator and taught me how to use a map. that was really the first time i felt like my dad and i had something in common that the rest of my family did not. a love for the open road. we were content taking in the country-side for hours. we didn't even need to talk... the stereo would play and we would feel free
- a trip to montana with my whole family. mom, dad, jess and i.... it was the first time my sister and i went to glacier national park. we camped the whole trip... if memory serves me... the thing i remember most about that trip was that my sister and i were sleeping in the topper of the truck... my parents had already been driving for hours. we were just getting in to the prettiest parts of the montana plains and they pulled to the side of the road to come and wake us up... it was probably around 5 or 6 am the sun was just rising and it was beautiful and cold. there were hundreds of antelope not just there but for miles ahead and they wanted us to see them
- driving alone from minnesota to billings montana. naive and scared. i was 19 and it was my long distance boyfriend's birthday. i think that was the first time i'd ever been anywhere alone really. and i felt so strong in that. i loved the way it felt to spend 16 hours in the car all alone. open stretches of nothing but me and my thoughts.
- traveling the west from top to bottom with someone that knew it very well. we went everywhere. i fell in love with the way the west was so different than minnesota. the people care about such different things. back home i felt many times awkward. in montana i felt uppity and almost snobbish. as if the things that i thought were important weren't at all. clothes. etiquettes. education. background. all the people i met there cared about was getting by... and having time to be happy and alive. they spent so much time just living in the moment and they didn't even realize they were doing it.
i think everyone that lives in this country should drive across it... i think i'd rather walk