Cross Country Drive, Day 6
July 17, 2020
Finger Lake Friday
South Bend Howe, Indiana (Depart 09:30AM)
Ending Location: Pennsylvania! (Arrive 08:00PM)
Driving Time: 8.5 hours
Driving Miles: 530 miles
Currently, I am laying in bed in the Holiday Inn with super slanted eyes, an empty plastic cup of red wine, and a subtle smile brushed on my face.
Today, Abby and I are feeling pretty pooped. The time change, many hours in the car, and emotional anticipation of being reunited with our families has been cascading over us in emotional waves. We’ve also each had personal journeys on this trip – from aiming to connect with family and friends across the country to emotional processing of events, we’ve had a lot of heart and connection on this trip.
I truly cannot believe it’s coming close to the end. As I mentioned yesterday, the indications we are approaching to the East Coast have been getting more obvious. Today, we drove from Indiana to Ohio to Pennsylvania and are OFFICIALLY reaching the East Coast of the United States.
We didn’t really see too many sights today, but it was definitely an emotional day. I am feeling so ready to be reunited with the people I love, while also grieving more of what I am leaving behind in Washington. Add to it real grief and my heart is a little all over the place, but mostly filled with gratitude for this meaningful journey with meaningful people.
Our scenery today transitioned from corn fields of Indiana to corn fields of Ohio. We’ve gotten glimpses of the Finger Lakes and more hilly areas. Being that we have crossed close to Amish country, we have also seen a different demographic.
Abby and I talked about frontloading vs. backloading our days and the trip in general. Of course, the beginning of our trip was FILLED with things to do and see with visiting THREE national parks in two days. Then, we began transitioning into more driving time. We both feel tired at this point and are therefore under the impression that frontloading our general itinerary feels right. I don’t think we’d have the same energy of exploring the National Parks if they were planned after 3+ days of driving. ALSO, we were frontloading our DAYS in the beginning (getting up early and exploring, then relaxing at night). Now that we are driving more during the day, we’ve been backloading the days a bit. We got to Chicago in the afternoon/evening yesterday and it felt right to explore the city after driving all day, then get to accommodations. It seems like we’ve planned this all perfectly and we continue to be on the same page with literally everything.
How effortless it is to travel like this! Thank you, Dada Abby. Happy happy.
Today, we made a special stop for Abby in Ohio. She has an aunt and uncle who she doesn’t frequently get to visit, so I dropped her off at their home this afternoon for them to spend quality time together. Leading up to this moment, I heard so many stories about her family and I was anticipating her visit. Abby has shared some beautiful Jewish traditions with me, and the word “mitzvah” was brought up multiple times today. There are some words that just don’t translate into English and it seems “mitzvah” is definitely one of them. It directly translates into “commandment,” but Abby shared how this translation doesn’t capture the emotional component of a mitzvah.
In reality, there is much more to the word. The simple translation of mitzvah is commandment, but Chasidic teachings find a deeper meaning in the word. Mitzvah comes from the root word tzavta, which means connection. [Source]
You (like me) may have heard of a mitzvah in relation to a bar or bat mitzvah, which translates into son or daughter (respectively) of the commandment and marks a Jewish child’s the entrance into adulthood. Furthermore, a mitzvah can also describe the fulfillment of commandments via kind deeds. Abby’s meeting with her family in Ohio was a mitzvah as it was a good deed to connect with her family members. She then extended her gratitude to me, saying I performed a mitzvah by bringing her to her family.
This has created layers of emotion in my heart as I am on my own personal journey home. I don’t know if I will ever have a single word for this process of coming home, but the idea of a mitzvah is sitting well within my heart. It feels like a divine path filled with kindness and love. To be walking (uhm, driving) this journey alongside someone else who is experiencing a similar heartfelt experience is deeply meaningful. It has been a blessing to be on this journey and taking the time to enjoy the process with a close friend.
Today, I have also been sitting with some emotions as I got the news a very loved one passed away this week. Though it was not entirely unexpected, the timing was also not anticipated. My Nana is someone very near and dear to my heart and she has been my Nonno’s companion for 60 years. Knowing that she is no longer with us is a complicated feeling. She hasn’t been well for some time and I know she’s now in Heaven, no longer suffering and able to be reunited with her family. My family is working through plans to honor her life and I am patiently awaiting giant hugs from everyone.
So now, on this final night before my arrival home… I am sitting with a cocktail of exhaustion, grief, and relief. Exhaustion from 6 days on the road, the heat (literally… it’s hot over here lol, the west coast is so mild!), and time changes. Grief of all the friendships, mountains, and memories I am leaving behind in Washington (but taking with me of course). Grief for the loss of another loved one, while still thinking on other losses from the last few months. Relief that I am 500+ miles closer to home – to my family and friends with whom I share effortless, mutual love. Relief that people I love are no longer on Earth suffering, but instead in Heaven and able to be free. Relief that I can rest peacefully tonight. Relief that I have endless love and support in my life, loved ones across the country, and have built relationships that sustain me and will last a lifetime.
Abby and I have transitioned into the giggling phase of our trip. We spent the morning laughing hysterically as we took a time travel to some of our old favorite music, which seemed to last throughout the day. We started our trip with deep conversations, consultations with the “IF” book… and are now at the point of hysterical laughter. Don’t worry though, we still have had meaningful conversations interspersed. Yet we seemed to derive the most joy from our selection in musical artists today, including: Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, blink-182, Enrique Iglesias, Savage Garden, Miley Cyrus (HOW has it taken us this long to listen to “Party In The U.S.A.”?!), Usher, Sean Paul (dutty rock all the way), and more.
We were also again entertained by the transition into more East Coast scenery. The trees became more ‘fluffy’ and round as we noticed the deciduous forest expanding before our eyes (in contrast to the evergreens and pines on the West Coast). We continued marveling at the clouds. We weren’t met with any new smells, but the speed limit interpretations seem to keep escalating. Now that I’ve gotten TWO speeding tickets on the west coast (NOBODY SPEEDS THERE), I am a little more hesitant to go 5mph over the speed limit. I’m sure I’ll get over that quickly. People also don’t follow the signs in construction zones at this point. The orange signs seemed to be mere suggestions as people continued their business of whizzing by workers without batting an eye.
I do not really think Abby and I ate enough food today. It wasn’t because we were cranky, but I think we both were A) Tired and B) Emotional, so we didn’t really plan our meals as well as other days. We had protein bars for breakfast, then ate a late Panera lunch (OH MY GOSH, change up from PB&J?!). For dinner, we had an awesome Mexican food meal in the capitol of Pennsylvania — Harrisburg! I got chicken tacos and Abby had a chicken quesadilla. We also continued to drink our Trader Joe’s boxed cabernet sauvignon to continue unWINEding.
We are in a Holiday Inn tonight. No more Air BnB gambles. Livin’ it up tonight!
What is your favorite travel quote?
KRISTEN: From Pico Iyer: “We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again – to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”
ABBY: “We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.”