Where Can You Go With $300 and 3,000 Miles Remaining On Your Tires?

It is early in the morning, but a dry desert heat is already radiating off the pavement under me. As I slip behind the wheel of my car, I eye a sugar-coated snickerdoodle cookie wrapped in a cellophane bag. It’s sealed neatly with a sticker that reads, “Thank you”. I tuck it safely away into my purse and feel a sense of hope rush through me.

A crazy idea brought me to a dealership for a free “travel inspection”. I knew deep down inside of me that I needed to make a road trip, so I was in the throws of figuring out the “how” of it. The trip wasn’t for a vacation–but a life-saving mission.

The life I needed to save was my own.

When I set out from Tucson, Arizona with my destination being Seattle, Washington, I had $300 in my pocket and 3,000 miles left on my tires. I was facing what was a horrific six-week deadline to figure out how to survive after a sudden separation led to divorce–and my transition to Arizona from California hadn’t provided me with any viable source of long-term survival. I was also in the process of reinventing myself, starting completely over with my life in my early 40’s. Crossing over the Arizona border back into California, and driving North along the coastline to avoid the wildfires blazing in the golden state that year, I realized what an incredible leap of faith I was taking. I had a six-week contract waiting for me, along with a big looming question:

Then what?

In my backseat were two precious little souls that would help hold me accountable to my goal of not giving up on my dreams for the future–a greyhound and a tabby cat. Their eyes looked at me with trust, sometimes with concern, but we were undoubtedly our own supportive little family unit. I promised them that we’d stay together, no matter what. This commitment was nonnegotiable.

Having moved 13 times in 15 years during my marriage, re-establishing a life in a new city was nothing new to me, nor was the process of how to move. But what was new was that I was going about it alone this time, needing to be my own hero. I was doing this move for me, and for my future self.

My future self was, and remains, an image I keep of myself that is built on some serious, long-standing dreams. Dreams of stability, security, love, and travel. At the core of that future self is a relentless inner child who just won’t stop asking, “Are we there yet?”

So, as I drove from Tuscon to Seattle, the miles subtracting life from my tires, and the stops for gas recusing the cash in my pocket, the question never went away:

How far am I going to be able to go, starting with $300 in my pocket and 3,000 miles remaining on my tires?

The answer became: much further than I ever thought possible.

It’s been over two years now since I set out in the dark early hours on an Autumn day and drove north towards an unknown future. At the end of six weeks, days before the end of my contract, I found work and a place to live. With a gigantic sigh of relief, it felt like I’d found a way to begin to build my future in the Pacific Northwest.

The days that followed were by no means easy. For the next eight months, my pets and I would only have what we had brought with us in the car–as establishing ourselves was the number one priority. I learned to live simply without very many possessions and discovered what mattered most to me. And I was fortunate to have met who I needed to meet at exactly the right moment.

Eventually, there would be one last trip to Tucson to recover the rest of my belongings from a storage unit, followed by a long drive in a U-Haul through Utah and Idaho, to return to Washington–but day by day, something resembling a solid, stable life was beginning to take shape.

The time eventually felt right to start reaching for big dreams and to begin pushing my introverted soul to new heights with all the resources of the Pacific Northwest at my finger tips!

But then something unexpected happened: A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

The fear of uncertainty I thought I’d shed returned in full measure and with it a different depth of isolation and immobility. Life came to a slow crawl. Traffic on the streets became non-existent, grocery shelves emptied, and every morning began with a not-knowing of what to expect. Oddly, there was comfort in knowing that I wasn’t alone in this major life change. This time, the whole world was going through what I was trying to navigate.

Today, as the world recovers from a tempestuous year, the little girl inside of me is still asking, “Are we there yet?” She still dreams of repeating all the quiet little endeavors that have brought her joy in the past. She misses her weekly pilgrimages to the library, of going on long road trips and visiting museums. She misses listening to the hum of conversations in her favorite coffee shops, and meeting close friends in person to talk about life, the universe, and everything–as INFJ personality types love to do. But while she craves the connection with a greater reach into the world that she still can’t obtain, she is still in love with the simple things, and she can find joy in the oddest of things that might be found close at hand. So she’s begun asking the adult she lives within, a new question:

How far can we go now while we wait upon the world to reopen and recreate itself? What can we go explore and find? Who can we still meet? We can still learn new things, right? Hear new stories? Have new adventures?

The answer I have for her is this:

Well, let’s find out!

Welcome to my blog about the simple things in life–sometimes told in a complicated, jumbled, and creative way-but honestly expressed, and with heart.

Created with good intentions and a sprinkle of imagination, I hope the posts to follow broaden smiles and inspire.

I invite you to follow along with me and join me as we celebrate the small, precious things in life that bring joy and enlighten the spark in our eyes and in our minds–all those quiet little endeavors that are cherished by those who consider themselves introverts.

Travel along with me as I explore the world I live in, starting close to home with the Pacific Northwest and one day, venturing further out. May the child in me, connect with the child in you and may they delight in answering the following question:

Just how far can we go together?

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