Where It All Began: Our First Long Drive
Spring break of our junior year at Florida State, we drove all day and all night up Interstate 95; twenty three hours on the road. Navigating past D.C. and the Maryland shipyards, through Philadelphia’s afternoon commuter traffic, and past the unexpected smoke stacks in New Jersey. We were astounded how much money we spent on tolls- over thirty dollars- and bickered over whether to tip the mandatory full service gas technicians.
New York City’s miniature skyline felt like it followed us for miles and miles. I gasped “Oh my gosh” driving through the underbelly of the George Washington Bridge. And, Matt opened the sunroof and all the windows as we drove through the Bronx on our way farther North; the air chilling us, goose bumps settling on our bare arms. And, I’ll never forget home after home after home stacked haphazardly on the Connecticut hillside. Homes situated so close to the highway, we could count all the pieces of furniture on the front stoops. I had traveled to Boston, almost every summer, since I was a young girl but I had never once driven there. This. This journey into the familiar and the unknown was a marker. I thought, this must be my future. I wanted to do this again and again.
It was dark, just past midnight when we arrived at my aunt’s home. All was still and lamps glowed behind shades and closed blinds. We parked under a streetlight opposite the house on the hill. “We’re here,” I said. “We made it.”
It was so much colder than we realized. Our light sweaters, turtlenecks, jeans, and boots bought in Florida insufficient for the final days of winter. We didn’t know then that mid-March in New England was not a sunny reprieve from the classroom. Wind whipped and whirled around the buildings, eddies of air cutting through the two layers of bottoms and three layers of shirts we wore, air that chilled you right to the bone. We took refuge in Starbucks after Starbucks after Starbucks, ordering hot cocoas, apple ciders, and vanilla lattes, always needing our frozen fingers wrapped around a hot beverage. We hadn’t packed gloves. But, we didn’t care. I didn’t care. We were here.
We walked in a dream along Huntington Avenue, hoods up, water seeping into our shoes. My arm circled in Matt’s arm, our hands tucked into our pockets, our shoes hitting the wet pavement in time with each other. The snow continued to fall and we walked with our heads down, stealing sideway smiles, following the trail of the green line subway; the metal rails rustling on their tracks and the cars clanking back in line, one by one, after each rounded turn. And, there must have been people, many people. Students from Northeastern walking to classes, co-workers walking back from an early lunch, lovers kissing goodbye, girlfriends laughing and slapping each other’s arms, city folk grumbling about the unexpected snowfall, other tourists checking their heading on a map, someone stopping to tie their shoe. People living lives all around. But no, I remember no one. No one on that walk, except for us, walking arm in arm in the city.
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Many Blessings and Happy Travels,