After her recent whirlwind trip across the pond, I asked Lizzi if she would be willing to share a little about that experience with the Stories That Must Not Die community. Much to my immense pleasure, she happily agreed. Give the following your rapt attention, and then head over to her site and participate in some of the awesome she has going on there.
By the time I was halfway through my trip, I had learned my itinerary, and could rattle off the list of states I was visiting.
Each interested party was treated to a staccato reel of “New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, back-to-Texas, Florida, back-to-NewYork and then to England again,” or to whichever friend I was standing next to, jumping in to tell the enquirer that they REALLY didn’t want to hear the long-long-long list of places, because it would make their head spin.
It made my head spin.
I, who had been to France twice, to Ireland a handful of times, but who (for most of her 32 years) had lived quite statically within five blocks of her childhood home. I was embarking on a trip to the other side of the world, to meet an astonishing number of ‘internet computer friends’.
They weren’t just any friends, either. They are my hardwired hearts – people to whom I’ve become particularly close over the past few years. These are members of a writing community with whom I’ve shared conversations, collaborations, video chats, laughter, sweet nothings, deep secrets, and yes…love.
Love I never trusted, not really, because I haven’t yet learned to love myself, and am constantly bewildered (though very grateful) when anyone else chooses to. But I’ve tried my best, and definitely love my friends, though their return left me baffled.
Until ‘Murica. When I was utterly transported by love – literally and figuratively.
Because aside from flights between Texas and Florida, and Florida and New York, I was road-tripped everywhere, by my wonderful friends. Bless their boots, they were willing to get into their cars and drive for hours with me to drop me to the next person on my agenda, like a giggly, English pass-the-parcel.
Courtesy of these trips, I was shown an America which most people never get to see – the United States through the eyes of assorted locals. Each person took me to places which were meaningful to them, and told stories of their past experiences there. Each person related parts of their lives to me, in situ, and the experience gave poignancy and depth to the friendships which had been unconveyable via screen.
There were short, local journeys by bus or taxi or metro, all of which lent their distinct transportational tang to the mix of movement, adding piquancy to the experiences. It was the cars, though, which were the main method of movement.
Each car lent its own sense of the driver. Some were haywire and busted up, but still resolute. Some were filled with evidence of children and busy parenting. Others were spandy neat and tidy. All contained someone I loved very dearly, and afforded me wonderful views into their worlds.
I saw parts of my friends’ childhoods – the streets they grew up in, or moved away from. I heard their memories as we whistle-stopped through tiny ghost-towns and past meaningful intersections, our travel punctuated by “and just down that road…” or “right over there…”
I marvelled at the signs alongside the roads, advertising everything from dinner shows to wildlife warnings to pro-gun poetry. The accents changed with the rest stops, and strangers mis-guessed my origin to as far away as Australia. The friendships remained constant, though, growing stronger and more bonded with every minute spent. Face-to-face time done side-by-side as the country barrelled by outside our windows.
Every car ride allowed me to spend wonderful times with people I love. In spite of the numb bums and occasionally maddening traffic, I hope that they all enjoyed spending time with me as much as I did with them. As far as I was concerned, not one second of travel time was wasted because they gave me additional time to connect and establish those onscreen friendships In Real. Doing that was absolutely magical.
Every single car ride helped – they all loaned an intimate space, for a finite number of hours, in which to bask in the togetherness of the situation, even as the wheels consumed the miles closer to goodbye. I can confidently say that the trip as a whole left me figuratively, literally, and very profoundly, moved.
Lizzi is a Deep Thinker, Truth-Teller and seeker of Good Things. She’s also silly, irreverent and tries to write as beautifully as possible. She sends glitterbombs and gathers people around her – building community wherever she can.