Coast to Coast

This year I’m taking part in “Bloganuary” – a series of writing prompts published throughout the month by Mindy Postoff. Today’s theme is “what is a road trip you would love to take?”

Back in 1999, when the world and I were very different, I had just returned to England after visiting my younger cousin in San Francisco for the spring.

Being young, naive, and not having seen much of the world, America walked straight out of a movie. From the blue shirted police officers wandering the crowds in the airport, to the hotdog sellers, the impossibly pretty college girls, and the war veterans holding placards in the street. A new world filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.

I wouldn’t so much say San Francisco made an impression on me, so much as grabbed me by the collar and shook me. Days were spent walking the various parks, eating sourdough bread, and retracing the haunts of Kerouac and Ginsberg.

The America I experienced during the spring of 1999 has stayed with me ever since.

In the months that followed – having read “On the Road” – I started to make plans for a coast-to-coast adventure. Perhaps the following summer. I would fly to New York and travel westwards across the United States – using cars, busses, trains, boats, taxis, bicycles – as many forms of transport as possible. My cousin would meet me for parts of the journey – perhaps to revisit her birthplace in Chicago, or the home of her formative years at Lake Powell.

At the end of the year I began researching the papertrail to make the visit somewhat more permanent – sponsorship, green cards, and emigration forms became the subject of transatlantic phone calls.

And then none of it happened.

I met a girl.

A chance meeting with a girl in Oxford re-wrote my future during the spring of 2000, and the road trip, the emigration, and the arrival of an English web developer in San Francisco during the dot com boom never happened.

I’ve never forgotten the plans though. One day. One day. Quite how the money or time might ever present itself remains something of a mystery given the arrival of houses, daughters, pets, and so on – but the thought remains – one day.

7 replies on “Coast to Coast”

Once upon a time, I went to university in Spain for a year and met a man who stole my heart. I had every intention of returning after I graduated from university, but it didn’t happen. Part of me had trepidations of being the foreigner for the rest of my life and while I have returned to see him over the years and we are often in touch, he remains a special part of me. So I understand how love can be…and not be…I’m glad you found your love in your country.

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I’ve driven from San Francisco to Eastern Pennsylvania twice. The first time I was 20 and I was helping my friend move across country. The second time was about 8 years later, and my husband and I were moving from San Francisco to Philadelphia. Neither time was great, as we were far too focused on getting there. It would be great to try it your way, and actually see something more than rest stops and freeways and corn. The first time it took 3 1/2 days, and we had no money for motels or anything, so we just took turns driving and sleeping. The second time we had money for motels, and basically got up, had breakfast, and drove the rest of the day until we were tired and found another place to stay. I’d say that one took us about 4 1/2 days. Big country.

I had dreams of joining the Peace Corps after college, but I met my husband, and he didn’t want to join. So I let that one go. I have lost the desire to do that, so that dream has been replaced I guess.

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It’s funny, isn’t it – my coast to coast would have needed a year’s worth of savings to enable me to stop at each famous town along the way and stay a day. Imagine the blog posts that could have been written…


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