by Tab Moura
After 12 months of dust storms and tumbleweeds, it was time to make the miserably long, brown drive from my apartment in Lubbock, to my parents’ place near Houston. Going home after leaving home is an indescribable experience. For some people, home wasn’t a safe place; for others leaving home is the bravest thing they have ever done.
When I left home, my parents also left home. At the time of my road trip, they were returning from spending part of a year in Australia, a place they called home over the next few years. I was just a lowly 18-year-old kid, driving the ‘92 Ranger my brother handed down to me… cruising across the endless state of Texas.
Before I left I packed, checked the oil, then tied down my luggage and belongings to hit the road. I knew that by mid-day the temp outside would reach 95*, so I topped off my fluids and crossed my fingers that between my AC and my playlist, this 10-hour drive would go smoothly. I even had a pillow to sit on #shortproblems, and I had my map-quest printed— I was ready.
Once on the road, I turned up the music, blasted the AC, and began my trek, but the AC wasn’t cooling the cab of my truck. The fan was blowing, but with no chill. I called my dad and asked what to do, and he said as long as I thought I could tolerate it, I should drive home and he could check it when I got there.
This, of course, threw everything off. I could barely hear my audiobook with the window rolled down. My map-quest papers wouldn’t stay on the passenger seat. I was sweating through my clothes, and my straightened hair now looked more like something out of 20k Leagues Under the Sea. I considered making more stops to cool off, but that would get me home well after dark, which made me nervous due to how tired I was getting.
I was prepared for every realistic obstacle, but I wasn’t prepared to be uncomfortable. I wasn’t prepared to get from A to B under those circumstances… but I did it.
I feel, perhaps you do too, that there is a great sense of mystery around how our country will move forward. It’s like we have the map, the playlist, the maintenance, and everything is tied down… but the AC has been off for a little bit. It’s disorienting, it’s uncomfortable and it makes us irritable. It’s hard to make decisions from this place… and while we know that it won’t be like this forever, we still have 10 hours to go and it’s pretty hot outside right now.
I don’t know what the answer is any better than I did back then… but I know this. When it was just me in that cab, counting the miles to my next highway change, I had no one (and everyone) to blame. It was hard to have perspective. It didn’t mean that no one cared, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t prepared. Vehicles need to be serviced. This truck had a few issues, it was reliable for a ‘92, but for a few hours, I swore up and down that I hated this truck with a passion. Perhaps much of what we are going through right now will dissipate once we make it to our theoretical destinations.
I don’t know what your course looks like from day to day, maybe it’s smooth; maybe you’ve been pushing your car down the road and you’re ready for something new. I’m tired enough to admit that I don’t know what’s “best” anymore. Maybe a new “car” will do you right… *insert current events reference here.*
I think we’re all really eager to rip off the bandaid and find out. Is it just really hot out here? Do we need to stop to rest? Were we not properly prepared? Is it time to test drive newer models? The answer is yes. All around. The truth is that we aren’t all having the same experience, much like how the AC worked for my brother, but not for me. Even in the same vehicle, we can get different results. We aren’t just observers, we are caretakers. I cannot say what is best for you, only that we’re all on this highway together, and some of us are getting real overheated; and we have a few hundred miles to go.
All just doing the next right thing.