In the middle of West Virginia on my way to Charlestown, I started really questioning what I was doing. There was a truck on fire and a backup on the highway as I was squished in bumper to bumper traffic. The mountain state felt like it was closing in. I had already drove through southern Virginia on I-81, into the Appalachian corner to White Sulphur Springs West Virginia and the 1-64 Welcome Center. The only company I had were my dolls and my stuffed animal monkey sitting on the front seat. I took them out and put them on the stone bench so they could see the blue ridge vista with me.
26 years. The state where I learned how to create AR apps using Google ARCore [their developer platform] by taking a course through the self-learning platform “Coursera” at a local dunkin donuts in suburbia. There, I also ran on the local middle school track to 2010’s russian music, where I taught myself python programming, russian, & accelerated-learning strategies simulatenously, where I drove to pet-sitting client’s homes and ran with their dogs, where I would create flyers for several of my service-based business ideas etc.
I thought I was going to be a local piano teacher, a french conversationalist who would meet learners at Starbucks, a mobile developer in Reston Virginia, a personal home organizer in northern Virginia, an international studies major in Richmond Virginia.
A few months ago, a plane passed me above, while I was pulling weeds and trimming vines in Warrenton, Virginia on a 10-acre isolated former farm, under a spring sky. West is where I will get full independence, full #adulting skills. Where I will no longer be served eggs benedict by my mom. Where I will do everything myself and everything depends on me. Exciting!
As I walked in the Holiday Inn Express outside of downtown Charlestown, I realized that I had truly left, my vehicle proudly pointed west, towards the Beehive State. The two previous years largely consisted of hoarding my savings with jobs that I did not entirely enjoy. I had put my head down for a higher value [a comfortable move]. Arborist assistant, pet-sitter, yard worker and weed-puller, special-needs after school babysitter, a runner with dogs.
Out of West Virginia, its rapids running alongside the highway and under the bridge of Charlestown, I drove to Kentucky on my way to Louisville. After passing the Daniel Boone National Forest, I stayed in a La Quinta. I enjoy rewarding myself with films, so when I achieved the goal of moving out of Virginia, I finally let myself watch the film “Buffaloed” starring Zoey Deutch. Sadly, and preferring slower travel, I didn’t go into downtown as I was in a hurry to get to Utah. I took my morning walk in Papa Johns’ park before getting back into my car. Nashville was my next stop. Chose another Holiday Inn Express, this time near Vanderbilt University in Midtown. As I walked into the lobby, I saw a country guitarist playing and heard the buzzy restaurant noise. Vanderbilt campus was outside my window. That next morning, it being a block away on West End Ave, I brought my paper journal to “Three Brothers Coffee,” which easily became one of my favorite coffee shops I’ve visited. Observing the bikes hanging from the ceiling, I got my cappuccino and wrote out my feelings towards this road trip. This very long road trip. The spot reminded me of this bike cafe I went to in The Plains Virginia; “Happy Creek.” 20 minute drive from my house into the virginian country, over the bridge, past another farmhouse. I don’t even remember what I was reading in the cafe, but I remember the feeling [our brain remembers how things and people make us “feel,” even before the “what”]
Now that I think about it, I wish that I knew Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” earlier. I could have listened to it while walking on West End Ave.
A hot Tennessean day, close to the Parthenon in Centennial Park from Three Brothers, I decided to walk over there, crossing a little into the park. In midtown, I was walking north towards downtown. I remember a hipster walking as well, reminding me that it’s a city with an influx of millennials. This was one of the cities I was entertaining moving to. Also, Fargo North Dakota for one day [because I listened to my mom who loves the cold weather]. Louisville as well. There was also a cool bike-styled bnb in Louisville that I wanted to check out there but never did. In Nashville though, I checked out some stores on 21st Street in the Hillsboro/West End neighborhood.
Next stop on my tennessean musical tour was Memphis. Further down south, after some rest stops and listening to Kacey Musgraves, Muddy Magnolias, Miranda Lambert, Larkin Poe, I drove into the vintage city, observing the brick peeled off the buildings’ walls, the murals. It was evening. Came back to my hotel and watched a strange sci-fi film while eating barbecue. Next morning, I drove over to Beale Street. Popped into a record shop, perused some jazz albums, then headed over to the Mississippi River to walk on the bridge. I loved the feeling of being in a place where so much music has been produced and created! So many ideas and sounds!! Passed by Sun Studio on my way back to the motel, but never went to Graceland. Just like Charlie Sexton’s “Graceland.”
Fort Smith Arkansas, Oklahoma City, Texas, then the landscape changed from truly eastern to western. Now I definately knew that I was in the west. It was beginning to get dark on the two-lane highway, on my way to my friend’s in Santa Fe. Next morning, I took a shower, in the backyard read Susanna Jones' “Earthquake Bird” then drove into downtown to practice being a “flâneur.” Visited the states’ smallest house..an adobe house the size of my room back home. Got huevos rancheros at “The Burrito Company.” The following day I spent in bed, with my windows open letting in the august desert breeze, reading more of “Earthquake Bird” until I shut the book.
Farmington, New Mexico. Dark by the time I made it to the northern town, driving alongside the rocks, I stopped into a Comfort Suites. No more danger. The next day was my long haul into Utah. There was Monument Valley, the red rocks of Southern Utah, the arch formations from dinosaur days. Passed through Moab, then two hours later, the pine trees appeared, the rocks started to turn gray, no more orange-painted canyons.
Remember distinctly a motorcycle while taking the I-15 towards the capitol of Utah for the first time. Turned east in the salt lake valley to my new rental. This was where I was setting up camp for the next year and a half.