Heading West

13 Dec

You couldn’t exactly say I made good choices. I tried. In the back of my head are my parents voices, always there, always speaking. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I don’t. Mostly though, I don’t. Like when I graduated from college. Mom and dad voice said: “Apply to graduate school. You like school, don’t you?” Instead, I went west. First to Arizona, then Montana. I wanted to discover great wide spaces. And I did. I stood under the biggest sky brushed with stars and just looked. I felt space. In the East you don’t feel it. You know it’s there, underneath the suburbs and leafy trees, supporting everything. You drive over it, walk on it. But it stops just short of your blood. In Montana it really got there. I stood in a meadow full with pink wild flowers that swept until the horizon, where storm clouds gathered in the purple sunset. It’s like letting your eyes run. Nothing obstructs them en route.

I drove my beater car there with my $1,000 worth of savings. Jane came too. We hatched the plan our last semester. Jane and I would pool our money, take my car and drive west. Once we got there, we would find crappy jobs that paid rent, and we would write on the side. For too long we had been hiding in dark libraries and dusty classrooms. For four years. We were ready to see the land we’d read about since we learned to read. You know, America. (We would never backpack through Europe. Too cliché.) But more importantly, we were just ready to do something instead of reading, analyzing, writing and discussing. Not that that wasn’t important. We got our degrees through doing it. That, we agreed, was important. But we were sure we didn’t want to do more of it for a long time, at least a year or two.

Let me explain Jane. She is everything I am not. She is practical, coordinated and very good with directions. She could have been a scientist. But she likes reading stories too much. So instead she majored, like me, in English literature. We’ve been best friends since the 10th grade, when she transferred to my high school, and the physics teacher put us together in lab because I sucked and she didn’t. She patiently explained the lab work to me, and I introduced her to my friends, who thought she was too quiet yet useful. She is pretty, and adding a pretty girl to the cliché added status. So she became one of us.



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