When I was a college student I shuttled between my hometown on Long Island and my sorority house at the University of Maryland in my tomato red Volkswagen Beetle that I purchased used for $900. I enjoyed the drive. The AM radio, the autonomy, the quality time with my private thoughts.
There were no pocket phones back then on which to text a mother along the way to tell her you were still alive. Mothers had to wait for us to show up at the front door or for the landline to ring when we got back to school. Being a mother myself now, I understand how unraveling this must have been.
That little-car-that-could had an interesting quirk the seller failed to mention: the engine wouldn’t restart for at least an hour after being turned off. It had to cool down. Quite often I’d have to wait at a gas station for the vehicle to chill before I could continue on my way. No biggie. I was young. Who cared?
One spring break Kathy Boyle, Kathy McCabe and I — both of whom eventually became known by their last names (Boyle and McCabe) along with 2 other Kathys (Dwyer and Tierney) as there were just too many Kathys in one sorority at one time — managed to drive 19 hours from College Park to Fort Lauderdale without ever cutting the engine. The beach, the boys, the beer, the rock hard 20-year-old bodies (ours), couldn’t wait. There was no time to waste. What a fun-filled age-appropriate adventure it was!
This Friday it’s destination Phoenix for me, for 2 performances of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter LIVE! Although it’s only 6 hours east on the I-10 it’ll still be a challenge for the softer version of my rock hard body, between the sporadic sciatica and vision fatigue. I’ll break it up with lunch with a friend in Palm Springs and a stop at the outlet mall on the way back. Not exactly the same rush as a mad dash down US 1 with the Kathys but it’s all good. In fact, it’s really good.
It’s been a while since I’ve ventured out on a road trip by myself and I have to admit I’m pretty excited. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy company in a car. Long drives with my husband or my wifey Suzan, have been more than memorable, particularly the one when Suz and I Thelma and Louise’d it to Vegas with her friend Orkan in the back seat looking a lot like a kidnapped Brad Pitt.
That said, on a shot-gun-free experience one has the opportunity to get lost in ones head and to think through the spark of a new idea without distraction. In that regard, traveling solo has never changed.
In Phoenix I’ll be performing for the Arizona Songwriters Association and the following week for a hopefully SRO filled Fiddler’s Dream Coffeehouse hosted by my dear friends at the Nashville Songwriters Association.
The show is cathartic for me. The last decade in the music business has been a long strange trip (no pun intended) and my humorous observations about how it’s changed — how I’ve changed along with it in many ways, and completely resisted in others — promises to be an entertaining evening for those who have shared the struggle as well as for those who are simply curious about a world they know nothing about…sort of like me delving into Chef’s Table.
I loved that tomato red VW Bug by the way — my starter car. In it I discovered roads that would connect me to the rest of my life and introduce me to the value my own company. When I became a pageant queen (I can’t explain — read my book already!) and needed a more reliable vehicle to get me to parades on time, I exchanged it for a wad of cash ($1500 —almost twice what I paid for it 3 years prior), on the corner of Wisconsin and M. Street in the pouring rain. I too, didn’t mention the quirk to the new owner, and with the forethought that he might turn off the engine mid-sale and not be able to re-start it, my friend Donna (not a Kathy) followed close behind in a getaway car so she could whisk me off as soon as the transaction was complete. Phew.
I think about the quirk when strolling that same intersection while visiting my daughter who’s currently (and ironically) a student at Georgetown University. I retroactively feel bad about it. As I’ve said before youth is an excuse for so much. Gratefully, I’m a grown up now with a higher code of ethics.
And I’m stoked for grownup journeys in grown up cars. Benefits to driving vs. flying — no airport security anxiety that someone might get a fire arm through TSA during a Govt. shutdown. No having to rent a car when I get to my destination because I’ll have one! In fact, it’s an adult car which starts every time I press the keyless-go. Amen.
Check in with me on Friday morning circa 9:30am ISH for a Facebook Live push-off, and over the next many days for still images and musings about my travels. Even though I love the solitude, it’s nice to know you’re there. :)
Seatbelt fastened. Snacks. Water. Butt cushion. Phone charger. Guitar. Books. Playlists queue’d.
Life is a series of roads we choose to travel. Some familiar, some not so much. But every one offers us a path for growth and a chance to bring home something unexpected: a new way of looking at trees, a co-writer, a song, a dent. 🙄(…this is my absolute favorite emoji. It says so much.)
I hope I’ll be fit for driving for many years to come. And as long as I am, wherever I go, even though I’m behind the wheel I’m quite sure I’ll always be a passenger.