Last Thursday I felt restless. The weather felt particularly spring-like; the temperature hovered in the 70s, there was a slight breeze, and as I trotted past my trashcan I noticed my daffodils had not only shot up out of the dirt, but they had blossomed into a lovely, buttery yellow.
When I got in the car, I opened my sun-roof and rolled the windows down so fresh air and sunshine could feel my car. I could almost feel winter evaporating out of my body. And as I cranked the radio, I wished that I had to drive further than five minutes up the street. I wished for a random road trip, and someone to travel with.
Once, on a warm spring day, after a particularly rough week, personally and professionally, The Friend and I woke up and got into my car. Our original destination was a restaurant about 45 minutes away that I adore, but once we got to the exit we weren’t hungry. Deciding to live in the moment, we drove past the restaurant. And an hour later, we stopped for gas.
I asked where we were going, and The Friend admitted he had no plan. We were just driving, enjoying the conversation that flowed from topic to topic with no direction or destination, just like the two passengers. We stocked up on drinks and snacks and filled up the tank with gas (ahh, the good ole days, when gas was $2.50 a gallon).
We drove that day until we reached West Virginia, where we had dinner, and laughed at what a long distance that was to travel for a fairly mediocre meal. “Since we came this far, do you want to go somewhere else,” The Friend asked as we got back to the car. “I’m with you,” I said.
And so at 4pm we got back on the road and drove to The Ohio State University. We looked at the football stadium for about ten minutes and got back in the car. “That’s my first Big Ten Stadium,” I said happily. It was late, but the logical step in this random but pleasant road trip was to drive further north rather than taking the 12+ hour ride home. So we drove to Michigan. And eventually stopped at a tiny gas station just this side of Canada.
We put gas in the car (again), browsed the duty-free store, and I giggled about our location. “Nobody even knows where we are!” Looking back, yeah, that seems stupid. But at the time, it was thrilling, relaxing, happy. “Let’s cross the border,” he pressed.
I protested for fifteen minutes. I had no passport, no baggage, nothing of anything because we literally were driving to a restaurant and ended up in Canada. I had a purse with a wallet and that’s it. But eventually he convinced me to keep the adventure alive, and my protests were pretty weak; I just wanted to be reassured.
So we crossed the border and of course our lack of passports drew attention. We spent an hour in a small room answering questions about the nature of our visit to Windsor, Canada. At one point I was sure that we wouldn’t be allowed into Canada or back to the U.S. because they asked us, simultaneously “How long have you known each other?” and we gave differing answers; his answer was the amount of times we’d been friends and mine was the amount of time we’d been sleeping together.
Eventually we got in to Windsor and drove around for a few minutes, looking at the sights (FYI there are none), stopped at a Tim Horton’s, and then said “now what?” Now what ended up being a trip directly back over the bridge for an overnight stay in a very sketchy part of Detroit.
The next day we woke up early, drove back home and arrived just in time for dinner. We ate, showered, and headed to bed. I was smiling as I drifted off to sleep, and The Friend asked why. “Because I cannot wait for someone to ask me what I did this weekend!” And we laughed for a long time.
It’s one of the only weekends I can recall the two of us getting along, laughing until we cried, and being affectionate. We had traveled together before, but not alone and certainly not spontaneously. Still, I look back at memories of The Friend and our vacations–Winsor, twice to California, and several smaller road trips, and hands down they are my favorite memories.
Last night I had drinks with some girlfriends. one of them had just returned from Park City, Utah. She took the trip with her boyfriend; they’ve dated nine months and have done two smaller trips together, but this was their first real destination-vacation together. They flew out for five days to ski at several resorts and enjoy the winter weather.
“Travel,” The Boss Lady proclaimed, “is the easiest way to learn about someone.” And we all considered what she was saying. “I learned that he hates lines and he figured out that I can’t leave my luggage at baggage claim without having a panic attack!” We laughed, but I really considered what she said.
Travel, if it’s something you enjoy, can be a big make-it-or-break-it in a relationship. From experience, some people just cannot travel together without disastrous consequences. I love travel, whether it’s a planned cruise or trip to Vegas, or a Saturday road trip to Windsor, Canada. Riding in a car is actually one of my most favorite activities. I love the radio stations of other cities, I love seeing goofy signs. And for some reason, every single trip I take ends up being crammed full of inside-jokes at the end.
So I think I just figured out one of my “Must-Haves” for the next potential boyfriend–he must love travel, especially road trips. And we have to mesh together well on trips; that’s sort of intangible, I know, but it’s one of those, I’ll know it when I feel it things.
Oh, and it’d be nice if he and I could tell the same story of the border patrol! Just sayin’