During the holidays, we drove through West Texas and New Mexico. A trip I've done before and a journey I never tire of.
It had all the makings of a romantic anecdote.
Four of us were nestled in the body off an all-terrain truck. We listened to country music from the 1950s. We marveled at the thousands of wind turbines, the out-of-commission gas stations, the dead deer and the pink skyline. I drifted in and out of sleep comforted by the fact that I had slipped back into time.
Driving through West Texas and New Mexico makes you feel like you’re cool as shit. That you’re the only person brave enough to step foot into this frontier. For the duration of the drive, you entertain moving to a town called Milagro or Truth or Consequences and you know that you could be happy there. You'd grow your hair long, make art out of found desert objects and create a shrine to Georgia O'Keefe.
As we made our way into Santa Fe, I took note of the sand colored pueblo-style houses with splashes of turquoise, sunshine and magenta, I thought, "I'm home. This is my home."
Of course I've said that in every town I've ever fallen in love with and there have been a lot.
The want to pick up and start a new adventure creeps upon me every trip I take.
I become a city groupie.
Winter is the season for wanderlust. Where anywhere is better than here. Every year I make a promise to myself to travel more — it’s good for the soul. It’s good for all our souls. Even if it’s a town 30 minutes away, it’s a new adventure, a new scene. I adore Austin like my left kidney, but sometimes I need to get out. A lot of times I need to get out, and after every time I do, I feel completely new. New inspirations to write about, new visions to dream about.
And there are many places I dream about.
I dream about the mini-Austins of my life:
Annapolis, Maryland, the bayside community where my Dad first moved to when he left our family. Where I'd go to visit and sleep under his piano as he tickled the ivories until 2 a.m. Memories of sitting on the pier, our legs dangling over, and the excitement as we'd watch our lines get taut with the pulling of a crab to catch.
Charlottesville, Virginia, the college town nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where my father moved to years later. We were in Civil War-land and trips through the lush countryside gave us a glimpse of what this area was once like.
Ithaca, the Upstate New York college town where I went to school and spent summers sitting by the lake dreaming of what my future would hold.
Astoria, Oregon, the beginning of my mother and my road trip down the Oregon Coast. Photo albums show Victorian homes, barking seals, reenactments of the film Goonies, cargo liners floating under the Astoria-Megler Bridge and my mother and I smiling.
Marfa, Texas, where I remember laying in the Victorian bed at El Paisano at dawn, listening to the rhythm of the train below and thinking that life was pretty damn good.
All these places are punctuated with memories of Mom and I getting caught in the rain on the abandoned boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey, the view of the Pacific Ocean as I drove up Highway 1 to find some sort of answers, the seedy motel room in Lordsburg, New Mexico where I did find answers, the diner in Monterey, California where my mother and father came together for the first time in twenty years and the three of us ate dinner to celebrate my 25th birthday and the beginning of a new adventure.
I dream about the big cities and all their mystique, too. Dreams of drawing the Chicago skyline from my window and realizing it was the first time in many years I felt creative again. Dreams of the blurry lights from Sunset Boulevard at 2 a.m. and the over-romanticizing of place I had a tumultuous relationship with. Dreams of the sounds of New York at 4 a.m., the town that makes me pretend I'm Woody Allen character every time I visit.
And as I write this, I realize it's not wanderlust that I suffer from, but wistful nostalgia. All of these places are perfect in their own way, but they were the foundation for memories that I cherish deeply. Memories that I want to go back to. Every new place I fall in love with because it will be another addition to the memory box. I long for the memory before it's even completed. I will collect these moments until my heart nearly bursts from yearning... and I'll do it over and over again.