This is hard. Packing up my car and driving away is hard. Driving for ten hours is hard. Being in a new place, one you’ve never heard of before, is hard.
And yet it is exhilarating. For the first time in my life I am completely on my own, making my own choices, staying where I want to stay, seeing what I wish to see. There is every emotion rushing through my body at this moment, fear and confusion and joy. But the dominating feeling is determination. Because I can do this, and I will.
I drove all the way to the end of the Keys just to drive away. I wanted to watch the sun set, but it seems like the whole world did, too, and I don’t have the patience to figure out parking and walking and crowds. Instead I drove over the bluest water I’ve ever seen, a deep teal, the color of sea glass. I saw destruction and devastation and rebuilding. I saw chickens crossing roads as if they owned the place. I watched the sea turn the color of storms, until all was black around me.
I drove across Alligator Alley, and I saw more turtles than I have ever seen lying on the side of the roads. And I pitied them, to an extent. We invaded their homelands, and we carved up the land. But there were fences across almost the whole stretch, on both sides, and yet the turtles still tried to get across. And I admired their determination, though I pitied them for it. And I wish my luck to the next turtle who tries to cross over.
I conquered a strange fear and drove over the Skyway bridge. Years ago, I had a strange recurring dream where I had to drive over a bridge that was incredibly steep, and was only wide enough for one car. It was pretty much a roller coaster, and if you wavered at all, you would fall. And in my dreams I had to drive it a few times, because I would forget something, and each time I remember feeling scared. Now, as I drive more, each time I get to a bridge that seems steep, I am both excited and scared. I think my fear is that I will pull a Princess Diaries, and my car will roll back down and I will cause a wreck.
And yet, this bridge is the steepest thing I’ve had to drive. I felt like a kid driving up it. If there weren’t cars in front of me, I probably would’ve coasted down, watching my speed but throwing caution slightly to the wind. As it was, it felt like a roller coaster I controlled. And I can’t wait to drive it again to go back up the state.
So now I write this in a little motel, anxious and excited and tired. I think I thought there would be more deep thoughts here, but there weren’t that many. Instead, I accomplished more. Maybe tomorrow there will be deep insights into the world and myself. But for now, there’s only turtles and a bridge, and a teal sea beneath me.