I cannot believe it has almost been a year since a year ago. My heart was distraught. Alone. Confused. The realization of the weight of my decisions had just barely not quite hit me yet. Because let’s face it. I made some bad decisions last year.
Seattle saved my head and heart from some ache once before, and I thought a fresh dose of some cold blue air would bring me back to where I needed to be to finish undergrad as strong as I started.
I prepared a playlist and hopped in the car. I had discussed with my aunt driving up to visit. We – really just me in this situation – decided what day I would drive up just a few days before I left. I threw anything and everything I thought I might need in my trunk/backseat. A milk-crate with some books, a box with a couple binders, a few bags of clothes. I had not decided on an exact date I would return at the time, but my leaning was to returning before New Years.
The drive up was mostly eventless. At some point towards the end of my first day of driving, I had my window down through a snowy bit of I-5 when a truck passed me on the left, and I was hit in the face with a huge drift of snow. That was pleasant. At some point past that, I stopped to call Chris Loach and chat about my drive up.
I stayed with my aunts friends near the north border of California that night. They had a lot of cats.
After scraping ice off the window of my car, I hit the road around 930 in the morning. I crossed the California border in my own car for the first time. Driving through the passes proved to be intense and frightening. I remember a sense of impending doom, and yet a sense of calmness within that. I stopped at a Starbucks at some point to post pictures of my travels on Tumblr.
I continued my drive up to Oregon State University, one of the schools I had applied to for graduate school. After spending an hour or so walking around the campus, I got back in my car and continued my drive. I made it to my aunts house by around 930pm. We chatted about plans for my visit – how long I was thinking of staying, what I wanted to do. I mentioned wanting to go to Canada, and that night we booked a hotel in Victoria for the weekend.
In the morning I woke up before the crack of dawn to go into the city with my aunt (she lives just outside Seattle). We took the ferry over (as we always do). I love seeing that city from a distance, watching it slowly get bigger and bigger, becoming part of the landscape with the hundreds of people quickly moving off the boat, bustling about hither and thither.
I walked to my aunt’s office with her. She wrote me a list of errands and gave me some money. I went about the business I had been requested to, and began to seek out souvenirs. As I walked through the Pike Place market, I saw the fish people who were the basis of a lesson I had taught twice since my last time in the city. I saw tourists, locals, people moving together.
Seattle is such a young, vibrant city. It is artsy, creative, serene. Wandering the back alleys of the marketplace, looking at books, I conversed with shopkeepers and stall-attendants. My ears were open, yearning for that one thought, that one piece of advice that would change my life. The piece of advice that would validate everything, that would give reason to my struggles.
Yet it never came.
My aunt and I drove to Edmonds to catch the ferry to Victoria. Victoria is perhaps one of the most amazing cities in North America. Firstly, it is Canadian. So that’s a win. The majority of the downtown area of Victoria is a grid. All the streets are perfectly straight. And everything is pretty. I thought this could be attributed to it being Canadian, but a trip to Vancouver proved this theory wrong.
Bookstores, coffee shops, a meal at a pub. Wandering around the city, taking it in after dark.
The next day we took the ferry back, and I got sea-sick for the first time in my life. So, that was gross.
Christmas came and went.
I drove to Vancouver. Turns out MetroPCS doesn’t have cell coverage past the border. Literally, right up to the border. Once you cross the border, nothing. The border patrol via car was much more intense than the ferry border patrol. He asked me a lot of questions, like why a Californian would want to go to Canada, what my plans were, how long I would be there. Turns out it’s suspicious when a young man is traveling alone and has no plans. I thought that was what being a man was… traveling alone and not having plans. I stopped at a number of bookstores, and found nothing cool. I stopped at a library and admired the architecture. I drove back to my aunts house. If getting into another country is hard, getting out of said country sucks.
I ran out of gas on the drive back to my aunt’s house, and had to call AAA. Except I didn’t have my card. So I had to call my aunt, have her find it in a stack of stuff in my room at her house and read me the numbers. While I waited for the man to bring gasoline, I called a friend to talk.
…to be continued…