Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Adrift On The Road -- Welcome to California

So the house is sold -- officially got the notice that the title had transferred yesterday. My realtor and dear friend Ritchard sent me a note saying "congratulations", to which I replied: "Thanks for everything — and I’m happy it all turned out.. but my heart is broken, I’ve been crying all day, and I absolutely hate this…. it’s the right thing to do but somehow congrats doesn’t seem the appropriate thing to say and I’m far from celebrating." He said: "A big hug, then. You'll figure it all out. You will be very missed and always loved." I've been getting a lot of texts and emails from friends with similar thoughts and it's made the drive south that much more difficult. I pretty much had cried myself out by the time I got to Olympia the other day, and now I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm feeling. Tired -- very tired, lost, confused, bored, lonely. Especially lonely.

This trip is unlike any other I've taken. I love the road -- and I love traveling alone, especially on the bike. I don't feel lonely when I travel alone. But I don't think I've ever felt more alone and lonely than on this trip. I think that it's because whenever I've traveled there's always been a place to go to and a place to come back to. This time there isn't either of those. It's not a ramble on the bike where I'm out for a few weeks and head back home, nor is it my winter in the desert -- going to a specific place that is familiar and somewhat home and knowing I'll be going back "home" in a few months. The Hummer is loaded to the gills and even the passenger seat is filled so I couldn't have anyone along even if I wanted to. I'm not going "home", I have no home. Quite literally I have no home.  Nothing in Seattle, nothing in the desert.  Nor do I have a place to go "to". Yes, I'm headed to a friends home in the desert where I'll stay while I'm looking for my own house, but it's not "home". I need to find a house and make it "home" and that will take some time.
So I'm adrift it seems like. Slowly headed south on I-5, in the right lane at 65 mph -- the maximum speed I can safely tow Angus and Bandit who are riding behind me on a trailer. The trip is taking much longer than usual for that reason. The majority of my belongings are in a warehouse in Seattle waiting for me to call for delivery, and everything else, clothes, computer, and daily needs are crammed into the Hummer with me. I wonder if the early pioneers headed west felt this way -- knowing where they were going roughly, with all their wordly goods loaded in a covered wagon, but not knowing where "home" would be, worried about what it would be like there, and could they make it "home"?

This slower drive allows me plenty of time to think things like that. It seems that's all I'm doing. Staring down the road, thinking, wondering, worrying. I know I should feel excited about the prospects of building something in a new place, but I'm not. The hard reason for this change is solely financial. Living off savings, unable to draw my retirement for a few more years, and paying $35,000 a year (and going up with insane property taxes) for a home I'm in 6 months a year just doesn't make financial sense. Selling it at a peak time and buying in the desert with the profits and thus having no mortgage is the wise thing to do -- the adult thing to do. But it doesn't feel good.

The act of leaving behind a place I loved, a "home", and 27 years of friends is hard -- very hard. So as I crawl along I-5 I remember, I tear up, I cry some more and then I move on.  I pass a place that brings back memories and they hurt. I drive on.
At last I make it across Oregon and into California. I wanted to take a picture of the "Welcome to California" sign but couldn't get a shot while driving and pulling a trailer. But I got the next best thing. Three miles past the state line was the "Agricultural Inspection Station". I can't believe CA still does this, but they do.  Every car lines up and passes an inspector who says "Do you have any fresh fruit?" I resist making some silly remark to the cute young inspector along the lines of "yes -- ME! (wink wink)" I say no and he waves me on. Is this at all effective at stopping something?  What if the TSA did this "do you have a bomb or a gun"?  "No"  and they wave you on. They had these things when I was a kid and we went to Disneyland from Salt Lake driving down old US-91 and my mom had to turn over some grapes. Grapes that were likely grown in CA and exported to Utah, but were now unsafe. The whole thing is just silly. It's one of the few things that's made me laugh today.

Two more days and I'll be in the desert. Two more days of drifting down California. It's a long long state. The mile marker at the border starts at 783 and ends at 0 on the Mexican border. But it's "home", or will be. I guess I'm now a Californian.

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