In May, I took a long roadtrip in Mame, my trusty Miata. Ostensibly for work, as I was speaking in Houston, Atlanta, and St. Louis, it was also a chance for me to get ‘back east.’ I thought this would be a good idea for me, since, I must admit, I sometimes feel more than a bit isolated out here in SoCal.
And so it was.
I really enjoyed the speaking engagements and the individual consultations I performed in the three cities. The people were lovely, and it was so interesting to see work from photographers I didn’t know or didn’t know well before. I actually enjoy speaking in front of large groups (which is strange because in some ways I am so self-conscious) so the presentations themselves were easy and fun for me to do, even when some of the questions were challenging.
And the drive was interesting, as I think all drives are. Driving across the country gives you the chance to see the country, which most people don’t do anymore. Most people just see the patterns of the land from 35,000 feet or so. I think they’re missing out. There was lots of neat stuff to see–the arch when you approach St. Louis, the bayoux of Louisiana, the way the land completely changes as you cross Texas, and the way trees get taller and greener the farther east you go and how they seem to shrink again on the return west.
I won’t say that I was totally happy on the road, because on one level, I most certainly wasn’t. The rampant aggressive and ugly christianity I saw scared the caca out of me. Remember how you used to see signs, when you drove into towns and cities, that said things like ‘The members of the Baptist Church welcome you to Buford’ or whatever? Well, I saw less of those and more billboards that said things like ‘America is a Christian nation’ or ‘One Nation UNDER God’ which made me, as a non-christian, feel less than welcome.
But that being noted, I must say that most of the people were just fine. I never got snubbed when I stopped for gas, or looked at like I was a weirdo, even though Mame not only has California plates, but also a ‘Member KPBS’ plate-holder. Though, I think a few of the folk could have used a translator to understand me (as I don’t have a thick Southern drawl).
Oh, and in the realm of negatives, the giant signs at the rest area I was desperate to get to in southern New Mexico (boy did I have to go!) which said:
(icon of HUGE scorpion)
(icon of even larger rattlesnake)
in the area!
freaked me out too. I must have inspected that toilet for a good 5 minutes before I could pee there.
But back to why the trip was good for me…
I left San Diego thinking that I was headed home. After all, I was going to get to see my whole immediate family in Atlanta and I was swinging through Columbus (Ohio, of course) to see friends and my hometown. I had been so homesick at times that I was really excited about going back. At one point, before I had even left, I was thinking that I would probably dread heading back west.
But a strange thing happened. At some point on the road, before I started my return, I started to feel like I was going away from home, not towards it. By the time I got to Columbus, I was sure of it. Once there, I learned that some good friends were divorcing, and that just seemed to seal it–home wasn’t where I was from or where my biological family is, home is truly where the heart is and I’m extremely lucky in knowing, without a doubt, that mine was waiting for me in San Diego.
So now I’m back, home, in San Diego. And I feel much better for it. I did good things for my business, I helped out some people, and I learned a very important lesson.