I’ve been anticipating for many months what it would feel like to drive out of Seattle, passing through downtown with new buildings that seem to have popped up overnight (including one that looked like a series of boxes piled one on top of the other); doing that unnerving merge from I-5 onto 90 for the last time; pulling down my sunglasses so I can see in the tunnels leading out of Seattle and through Mercer Island (there’s one that gets uncomfortably narrow at a certain point, which is also the point that someone always is riding on my tail); crossing the last stretch of Lake Washington to Bellevue, and on to Issaquah and Sammamish and Snoqualmie.
The sun was shining but ahead of me the skies were gray. Wisps, and more, of clouds hung in the Cascades, and I kept wishing I could drive and take pictures at the same time. The higher I climbed, the closer the gray got and then I got to experience what it’s like to be inside a cloud. Wet. The rain started slowly but the higher I climbed, the harder the windshield wipers had to work. I’ve crossed the pass before but never alone, and never with my backseat filled with Christmas cactuses and jade plants and my grandson’s tiny baobab tree.
The rain slowed and then stopped as I began the long descent to the flat gold of the Eastern side of the mountains. There were acres of wind turbines, a different kind of farming to accompany the potatoes and all the other crops the land produces there. At my first pitstop, there was a phalanx of parked trucks and a couple of odd artifacts on a picnic table.
A friend called while I was at the next rest stop (I’m making an effort to get out of the car and walk around every hour and a half or so). I had thought I was fine until I heard her voice. “Just checking in,” she said. “How’s it going?” Her voice and her reaching out to me across the miles that are starting to grow between us, cracked me open and I could feel, instead of just knowing in my head, what a big wrench this is.
Other friends have been texting all through the day and into the evening. Some are tracking my progress via Find My, and I can feel the love that is accompanying me. I know this is the right move, and I am driving towards loving family who have set up an air mattress and other supplies that I’ll need in my new apartment in the weeks before my furniture and boxes arrive, after making their own trip on this same road. And, it’s more challenging than I had anticipated.
Somewhere along the way, “Local Hero” came on the Sirius E Street channel, and Bruce Springsteen sang to me: “These days I’m feeling all right, ‘cept I can’t tell my courage from my desperation.” Desperation is a bit strong, but the knowledge that I had to make a radical move has kept me on track for many months and will keep me going as I cross states that feel like foreign lands (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota) and head for my new home.
Driving is not the hard part. The hard part is sitting alone in a hotel room. But it gets a lot easier when I set up my computer and focus on the screen and let words come out of my fingertips.