Tomorrow I am going on a road trip for a few days. Technically, it is not a road trip at all. Firstly, I am going by train. Secondly, I am staying in one place. Despite these admittedly large provisos, in my world this trip classifies as a road trip. The main justification for this is that it feels like a road trip.
It feels like a road trip because it is the allure of the ‘open road’ that has made me decide to go. Earlier I spoke to my friend who I had originally planned to go away with later in the summer. She has now booked to go away with someone else as our available dates just did not fit together. I felt sad about this. Scribbling away in my journal, I realised that while my sadness was in part about our mutual plans falling through (for the third year in a row – long story!), it was largely arising from the desire to just get away. Although I’m often happy to take a ‘staycation’, I guess sometimes we all need a change of scene to revive us. Even my plans to go to London later in the week didn’t seem satisfactory to fulfil this urge; I was there at the weekend & go so regularly that it lacks that ‘holiday’ vibe. Maybe it stems from having a childhood in the Midlands, but for me, holiday = seaside.
It also feels like a road trip because it is spontaneous. It was only at 8pm that I decided for definite that I’m going. That’s only 14.25 hours between the decision & the train I’m catching. I often long for more spontaneity in my life. It took a lot of soul-searching to realise that one of the most beautiful, happiest & poignant moments in my life felt that way because it was spontaneous. Ever since, I’ve tried to recapture that feeling, often failing by mistaking drama (high emotion & / or extremes of behaviour) for spontaneity. I guess spontaneity is by its very nature difficult to nurture or encourage. Having recognised this rare opportunity, I’m grabbing it with both hands.
Closely linked to my desire for spontaneity is my urge – I would even say need – for freedom. Again, it has taken a long time to identify this, to unpick what is was that underlay many of my fondest memories, to name this nebulous feeling. The need for freedom clashes with many of my other urges; reconciling freedom with the desire to feel loved is perhaps my greatest dilemma in life. Reconciling freedom with the pressures of life (financial; time; etc) is also difficult at times (I haven’t the time nor money to do much more than the trip I am undertaking). This trip signals freedom in different ways: the freedom to simply go; the freedom to go where I want; the freedom to do what I want when I’m there. This freedom again makes it feel like a road trip.
This road trip joins a list of various journeys that have come to represent road trips in my memories. Nearly all of them did not involve a car, while many of the journeys I have undertaken by road have felt so stifled & cloistered & restricted that they lack any of the symbolism of ‘the road trip’. I may not be going on Route 66 – rather a cross country service to a small north eastern seaside resort – but I’m certainly going on a road trip of the mind.