We had been talking about it for a while. A road trip. Just Jen, me and the open road. The problem was timing. Our lives were busy. Kids, PTA, school…there was always something.
Finally, we found our window of opportunity. I was in charge of mapping out our destination and making sure we didn’t up in middle of the desert in Mexico. Jen was in charge of making sure we had music, although I had to make sure to throw some of my favorites in there I knew she wouldn’t, like 2pac and Jaheim.
The plan was to leave on a Saturday morning and return by the following Sunday. As I packed the jeep with the essentials: Butterfingers, water and chips; I couldn’t help but to feel excited. I didn’t know how this was all going to play out but I had waited over 10 damn years to find out.
It was 6:30am and luckily no traffic in sight. It would be a quick trip down to Federal Way to pick up Jen. Risking my life, I stopped for gas in Tacoma. As I bought a couple scratch tickets and a coffee, the bald, middle-aged gas station attendant struck up a conversation with me. “So, where ya headed this early on a Saturday morning?” “I’m headed to Federal Way to pick up a good friend and then we are headed to California.” “What’s in California?” That was the million dollar question. I left everything there more than a decade ago but would it still be there? Would it be the same—would he be the same. I didn’t know but soon I was going to find out. Oh yeah, and we would be meeting up with our old friend Alphonso.
Before I could stop myself, I excitedly began telling a complete stranger my life story. “So here’s the thing, I am meeting up with an ex after several years. He’s moved on and I have too but I feel like there was so many things left unsaid….I think that we both need one last conversation to clear up some stuff and just put the past in the past. But there’s just one small problem, he doesn’t know I am coming down and I’m not quite sure how to tell him. We haven’t spoken in quite a while—actually the truth is I stopped communicating with him because…well it’s complicated.”
Realizing I was getting too deep, I took another sip of my coffee and looked up. The gas station attendant’s looked as though he had been tortured while listening to my rendition of my insanity. I apologized for rambling and quickly gathered my coffee and tickets. “Have a safe trip” he said, but the look on his face was that of relief and the realization that he just had a conversation with a crazy person.
Maybe I was a little crazy for making this trip. I had imagined making this trip millions of times and now it was actually coming to fruition. The truth was, I didn’t know what was at the end of the road. Maybe it was a dead end or maybe it was just a road less traveled. Either way, I had to find out.
I pulled up to Jen’s apartment. She was waiting on the steps smoking a cigarette and checking herself in a pocket mirror. I parked and helped her put the 5 big, heavy bags in the back. From the looks of it, she may not be planning to come back. In true Jen fashion, she jumped in the front seat with her notebook. “What is that?” “I have to document everything”
Of course she did.
Just like that, we were on I-5 headed south.