home – explosions in the sky
how far we’ve come – matchbox twenty
welcome home – we shot the moon
The first time I drove my car, I was alone and crying hysterically. Having a car meant that college was mere months away, and college looked like an absolute dead end. It didn’t look like a new home or a world of opportunity—it just made me wonder where all the effort I’d put into my town, my friends, and my school had gone. Everything was set to evaporate over one summer, and my car was a concrete realization of this fact, a cage around me.
Two years later, and I’m packing up my car with two of my oldest friends, with music as loud as the speakers will go, with an atlas and no idea of what to expect. I’m leaving my town willingly this time, with the hopes of seeing what my home looks like on a wider scale. We can no longer stand for textbook definitions of the Painted Desert, or southern hospitality, or the snowy mountains of Vail, or the breathtaking Pacific Coast. It’s something we’ll have to find for ourselves. Leaving my driveway sets a nervousness in all of our stomachs, but it’s a little bit like a high bounce on a trampoline. If you’re careless, you’ll bound over the edge and break yourself. If you’re believing, you’ll land safely, but with your stomach in flips. And you’ll know that this is what it must feel like, if you were able to fly right off. And you’ll hope you’ll have those dreams, again, tonight—the carefree ones you had as a child.
The same car that I thought had trapped me, the ages that we thought would mean growing up, the mechanical troubles we’d been told to expect … all of this dissolves. In almost three weeks of the road rolling endlessly beneath us, we find ourselves to be so much freer, safer, and amazed than we ever could have expected. Across 7,489 miles, we make our homes on rooftops, in swimming pools, on sand and gravel and sea. We find friends and family in every corner of our country. It forces us to realize how vast everything is, but elevator ride connections reduce the world to a much smaller place. There is no place where we feel we don’t belong.
Take your wildest expectations. Go test them. Try to remember people from twenty years ago. Call them. Think of the scariest thing that you can. Go do it. Take down the walls that you’ve been told are there.
You were meant to be free.