Dubbed the Lesbian Jack Kerouac by my BFF Brian for my propensity for long distance romance, “A girl in every port and on the road with a broken heart,” he describes me, I set out on a life-changing adventure in November of 2011. This is my tale of deep heart exfoliation via asphalt. Check out all the tales in this series at the Gay American Road Trip 2011 tag.
To Salt Lake City, UT from Longmont, Colorado via Interstate 25, Interstate 80–through Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
Longmont is basically spitting distance from the Rockies. GORGEOUS. Majestic.
I left Cam’s at noon to pick up a prescription at a local drug store. I called my doctor because I just felt the slightest hint of an oncoming urinary tract infection and that is NOT CUTE on the road. She called in the prescription. Whatever it was went away quickly with the short course of antibiotics and I am glad I took action for my health instead of hoping it would go away on its own.
I enjoyed that the gas station in Colorado was blasting country music like we were in the South and there were lots of cute men in cowboy hats hopping in and out of pick-up trucks. This was my first time in Colorado. I drove through a few small towns outside of Fort Collins on the way to I-25 and stopped at a Goodwill looking for Double Chin Wins. Nothing doing. As I said in my yelp review, the pricing was great for end-users but not for vintage resalers–whoever is doing the pricing at the Goodwill in Fort Collins is very conscious of value, which is actually great for them. But I prefer thrifting where I get to determine what the treasure is, you know?
Once on the highway I was still feeling the buzz of the love from Cam’s house and how nurtured I was feeling. I was enchanted by the expansive rolling beige hills of Colorado and just as I was about to enter Wyoming saw a big buffalo cut out sign. Thinking “It would be really cool if that was actually a buffalo ranch” BAM, there were buffalo. Roaming.
When I-25 intersects with I-80 in Cheyenne, the freeway makes a great curve. I was so overtaken with the beauty of the sky there. I had a spiritual moment.
There is something so incredible when the sky keeps going on forever like that. I felt lighter. I felt open. I felt that energy shift I had been longing for during the last few months of loss and change and grief. I felt free.
Cue MEN’s “Who Am I To Feel So Free”
My break-up in November was the last straw that sent me packing on this trip. I was sort of intent on it working through the holidays and the winter, figuring even if we weren’t forever times compatible we could provide some joy and comfort to one another in the meantime. That she dumped me out of the blue rather than work on things was a shock. It was also a complete blessing in some ways because it liberated me to do the soul-searching and processing I needed to in order to rise from the ashes of my life.
We had been monogamous and it was the first time I was in complete monogamy monogamy for several years. My fiance and I were non-monogamous with a few rules and didn’t really use it. And anyone I dated after that was never a girlfriend girlfriend. I had once been “secret monogamous” (so declared by a friend) because I was seeing someone and even when presented with ample opportunity I didn’t stray. So being for real monogamous for the first time was a weird mindset shift. If I was attracted to someone I might feel guilty or have to internally process that “Okay, we’re all gonna be gay for real long time,” or something. It’s not hard for me to practice monogamy but I am the kind of Femme who just wants the theory of freedom more than the practice. Monogamish.
My friend Heather weaves this great metaphor. I am a wild pony and I like my corral door to be open. Line the corral with lots of snacks, I’m not really wandering. But when the door is closed it just feels so closed.
So I had been feeling the effects of a closed door. Not necessarily in a bad way and not that I won’t be monogamous again. But this was three weeks after my break-up and I was still doing my internal conditioning of “You can’t act on this attraction because you are monogamous.” And then having to remind myself, oh, no, you got dumped. You’re free again.
And this freedom just settled in like clouds shifting in the sky as I drove through Wyoming that day. I felt good.
It was stunning. Wyoming is beautiful country, I just can’t believe it honestly. That song Cowboy Take Me Away (cue Dixie Chicks) always always reminds me of it. I went through the Northern part of Wyoming when I was 21 and moving to New Jersey from California and was similarly struck with its gorgeousness.
Since this was the end of November, the weather was shifting and there was visible snow. It was sort of exciting. I stopped for gas often, every 100-150 miles instead of every 200-300 miles as I had previously (my tank will get me 350-400 miles but I am a girl scout and I am prepared). I was stopping so much both because of my peeing needs and also I kept fearing there would be some long loooooong stretch of highway with no gas stations. Wyoming is long and the cell service is somewhat spotty at best.
Sounds tasty. It was the day before Thanksgiving.
I love a great sunset–best part about driving East to West is watching the sunset everyday.
So the gas stations had snow on the ground and it was really really cold. Macy had on her sweater. We kept going toward Utah. The best part about this part of the midwest is that they typically have Diet Dr. Pepper in their soda machines. It is my favorite fountain beverage and hard to get outside of the surrounding Texas area.
I stopped at a Sonic for some tater tots for dinner, lost the screw in my glasses when I changed out of my contacts, did some girl scout macguyvering looking around for an eyeglasses repair kit in my car (found it). Took Macy for a good walk in a Wyoming strip mall, atop some rocks overlooking the glowing highway.
I entered Utah and it was pitch black. The drive of I-80 to Salt Lake City is super mountainous and scary. Lots of “look out for deer” signs and twisty turny stuff. I had never been to Utah but was freaking out more about the road and whatnot to notice.
This is still Wyoming.
I switched my audiobook to the more upbeat Bossypants by Tina Fey. I gripped the steering wheel. I made it to Utah by 9pm. I was road worn.
Cue Starkville by Indigo Girls. A song all about being road worn and love lorn.
I sat in that hotel room (super grateful for the microwave and fridge so I could enjoy leftovers from Cam’s lasagna) and felt all buzzy from Diet Dr. Pepper, updated the music on my ipod and wrote a very hysterical and lengthy email to a friend. Sadly determined my drive the next day was another 12 hour stretch. My previous Salt Lake City to Bay Area projection had been incorrect. I wanted to make it to my mom’s house in the East Bay by dinnertime but wasn’t sure I could physically wake up in time to get on the road by 6AM.
I decided to let the goddess decide (no alarm set) and fell asleep watching an infomercial for the genie bra. [Which, by the way, doesn’t actually make those women’s boobs look great. You’re better off with a well-fitting real bra or wearing a sports bra. I am not sold on the genie bra.]
The trip itself was a fifty-person tour group made up mostly of participants, who came from many walks of life. There were way more Christians with no ties to Judaism on the trip than I thought there would be. (I would be considered “strong ties to Judaism” because of my partner and my Grandfather.) Maybe it was roughly third Jewish folks, a third strong ties and a third no ties? The Storytellers were from all types of Storytelling, political speechwriters, broadway performers, actors, social media managers, TV and movie producers, journalists, novelists and more.
Our schedule was packed early morning to late night with activities. Sometimes lectures at the hotel but more often out and about seeing things and hearing about them from our tour guide. We had a panel of journalists, tons of leadership development activities, tours of villages and went all over Israel from the Golan Heights to the Dead Sea, a big ol’ crater in the desert to Jerusalem, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
I feel like I got a Master’s degree level immersive coursework about Israel, the conflict with the Palestinians, the war in Syria. Old and New Testament Bible stories come to life. Israel was nothing like I expected and the trip completely blew me away, creatively, emotionally, politically, and left me more curious than ever.
My second favorite thing we did on our trip to the Florida Keys was curating the sunset. I absolutely love doing this. By curating the sunset I mean, finding out when the sunset is going to start and finish in my vicinity and setting aside the time and effort to go enjoy it. This means not just noticing that the sunset is happening but finding the exact right place to watch it happen.
I call things like sunsets “God TV.” If it’s something naturally occurring that is interesting to watch, I call it “God TV.” I like watching the sky turn all the different colors, notice the changing shadows around me and finding a spot to watch it that affords a lot of great ambiance.