I remember driving to Iowa in the night, nothing but an expanse of cornfields before us, and even that I couldn't see. It was dark and perfect for viewing the star-dotted skies that I marvel to think of now, living in a place built up so the stars are drowned out. I played this game to entertain myself during the drive: I would squint my eyes almost shut, blurring all the headlights of cars passing into spotlight-like beams, and then I would tilt back and forth to move them around like the spots they use to pull you into some important event--or a used car sale at least. These drives were always quiet, except for maybe some jazz on the radio because my dad was the only other one awake. Sometimes he would look at me in the rearview mirror, always expecting me to be up too, and he would wink at me for just a second before he put his eyes back to the road. We never really spoke, but even then I think I felt like we shared something of a road warrior soul.
And when I met Trevor, he had this in him--this Kerouacian determination to hit the road and be in it for the long-haul. Because there always is a destination, I suppose; but for those of us road warriors, just to be going is really the thrill. So maybe the girls will love it, or maybe they won't; but either way, a road trip is something they'll grow up knowing. Probably even more so now, our new home seemingly close to a thousand destinations compared to the desert isolation we'd come to know living in the west.
Here, in just six short hours, you can almost forget there is a place like New York City and get lost in the winding roads and trees of, say, Maryland, for instance. You can rent a tiny cabin with a wood-burning stove and a treehouse and tire swing out front. Deer greet you at the windows in the morning, little afraid of the pleasant, slow-paced nature that envelopes guests to such a rustic, calm space. You can just be for a day or two. Eat a s'more. Teach a kid what a s'more is, for Pete's sake. There the air was crisp and cold and we saw our first snow. But you know, there is nothing quite like the warmness that comes with a fire in a stove heating a living room. It's a warmness summer only dreams of because it is welcome and loving, like a hug or a blanket.
Our stay in Maryland was short and rather uneventful, but even as we pulled down that gravel driveway, leaving the cabin in our dust, I relished the coming trip home too. We wound around a lake and through mansions that have stood for decades, likely. We peeked down into valleys, speckled by the shadows of clouds and where the sun seemed always to shine on little white churches. We talked of such things and other things while the babies slept, and we sneaked some milkshakes for the grown-ups, courtesy of a sketchy convenience store somewhere outside of Pennsylvania.
Soon enough, the city came into view; and it's not quite a sky full of stars, but it sure is a city full of lights. I turned around to see Iris awake and taking in the view. I winked at her, without a word, before turning back to face the open road.