We slept comfortably at the rest stop last night. This morning we even got up and made pancakes. After walking the dogs and picking burrs (I’ve never encountered such villainous flora.) out of our shoes that had tagged along from Marfa we hopped back on the I-10 towards Austin. When people say Texas is big, they aren’t kidding. It stretches on for miles and miles as if it’s its own country.
I had been anticipating driving through Fredericksburg on our way to Austin. Although, I had only been to Fredericksburg once before and for no longer than 30 minutes it holds a significant memory.
My freshman year in college in Santa Barbara I took French. In class with me was a girl with porcelain skin and strawberry blond hair from Texas. She and I would often chat in class. When I found out she too wanted to pursue the career of an actress, despite not really knowing her, I casually suggested that we move to LA for the summer instead of back home. Much to my surprise she said yes and we made plans.
She went back to Texas and I went back home to Indiana for a week to visit family and get my car, “Peanut”. Then my dad and I drove off to Texas. I’ve always loved road trips with my dad, they are some of my most favorite memories and this one was no different. He went with me as far as San Antonio and I dropped him off at the airport early as the sun was rising. I’ll never forget the ache in my heart that morning as I pulled out of the airport by myself watching the planes take off through the the streaked sky.
I felt alone, excited, and scared.
After spending a few days with another college friend in San Antonio, I headed to Fredericksburg where I was to meet Juliana, my friend from French class, and her dad on the steps of the Admiral Nimitz Musuem to begin our journey west.
My map skills must have been better back then because I found the museum on my own without the help of an “app”. I didn’t even own a cell phone. It was just me and my little red Peanut who was on her last leg all too ready to overheat on a hot Texas summer day. (Driving through El Paso without air-conditioning and the windows down in 100 degree weather is not fun.)
Today, I wanted to relive those first steps of that pivotal journey in my mind. I wanted to remember driving the hilly highway 290 through the pecan trees while listening to the Tori Amos Little Earthquake album. I wanted to remember what it felt like to be 19 and free from responsiblity. I wanted to remember looking through the pink lenses of my sunglasses. I wanted to remember seeing Juliana and her dad finding me on the steps to begin our adventure. I wanted to remember the exhilaration of being an excited 19 year old girl as we headed west.
I would not drive back east for another 15 years.
A crazy LA summer, a fifteen year old friendship, and a new life later, I find myself again on Highway 290 passing those steps where I naively felt like my “adult” years began. The dreams I had did not fold out as I had hoped. I would have never imagined I’d be driving back east, my home in tow by a big diesel truck filled with boys. My boys. Boys who I love with with every cell of my body and my spirit beyond.
Life looks different at 34 than 19. Prescription lenses have replaced pink lenses. Responsibility has replaced most of those old freedoms but inside I hear her. As we drive past the steps of the Admiral Nimitz Museum, I hear that 19 year old girl. She reminds me that her heart is still wide open for whatever God sets out before her. Wide open like the road ahead.
Love and Laugher,