With the open road ahead, I will be setting out on a cross-country road trip this week. And, of course, I’ll be doing it solo, with only the changing American topography alongside me. I have always wanted to do a cross-country road trip. Especially after returning from Peace Corps service, I had a powerful urge to see more of the States. Now, I’m getting the chance! I’ll be driving a 15-year-old convertible from coast to coast. As a friend pointed out, “That’s the start of To Wong Foo.” I just need a couple of world-famous drag queens beside me when I run into Stockard Channing in middle America and I’ll be a movie star, too!

photo from midliferoadtrip.tv

This isn’t the type of open-ended cross-country trip I had once dreamed of having, as it does have a relative time limit and the route is limited, but I was beginning to feel that I would never have a cross-country trip, especially a solo one. As I mentioned earlier, the ideal trip is rarely the one we are able to take, but it is the one that we are taking today that is ideal at the moment. This opportunity was presented unexpectedly to me, arising from the dust of other stresses (and fortuitous challenges). How serendipitous it is to be happening during a year of such self-discovery!

As I planned for this trip, I started asking myself how quickly I wanted to arrive, how many nights I wanted to stay in each place, how I would handle the boredom, and if I would be comfortable with cruise control. There are so many factors that could alter my impression of the trip — or, more importantly, that would take away from my appreciating it.

Then I remembered something my host father in Moldova used to tell me: “rush slowly.” It’s not a traditional Moldovan phrase, just his phrase. What a beautiful contradiction between productivity and appreciating the present. One can move forward efficiently, productively, and with abundant enthusiasm while still maintaining an appreciative eye on the process. Perhaps I was drawn to this phrase because I don’t know how to live it, but would genuinely and eagerly like to. Even having designated it as my new mantra for over a year, I still don’t know how to do this effectively, but it’s a blessing just realizing that such a balance exists!

So I am bound and determined to keep this phrase in mind as I drive solo back to Florida. The trip will undoubtedly have its fair share of personal introspection, but there will also be plenty of miles to focus on this vast land rather than my own issues and emotions. As I work my way across from West to East, I will indeed stop for a couple of days in each spot. I will meditate on my good fortune, while reminding myself not to push the speed limit. I will try to resist the urge to get to my destination as quickly as possible while still going fast enough to feel validated in driving a convertible during the summer. I will try, to the best of my travel-hungry ability, to rush slowly. And I will keep you posted along the way.