Tomorrow, I’ll take a cab to the Thomas-Built plant in High Point, and pick up a school bus. Then, I’ll hit the road either tomorrow afternoon or very early on Wednesday morning. It’s a short bus (YAAAAY! We’re goin’ to the zoo!) to be delivered to Seattle (BOOOO! We’re not goin’ to the zoo!) on Monday.
It seems like a very long time ago I took my last cross-country trip, but it was just in early November. Since then, though, my wife turned my world upside down when she left me, I headed for Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where I did a morning news/talk program until I realized that I just could not live on what the job paid, and lived for a couple of months in a windowless room at the Comfort Inn.
I’ve stayed in something like 50 different motels and hotels since June, and this was the only one where my room had no windows. In addition to the stress, depression, poverty and gray, cold winter weather, having no windows in my room made me feel, more than once, like opening a vein. But the housekeeping ladies were so nice there, I just couldn’t do that to them.
One day about a month ago, I was standing outside the Comfort Inn (conveniently located just off PA Exit 3, on I-81 — for all your comfort needs!) watching the trucks and buses whip by. And suddenly I realized that I really missed being on the road. I missed seeing states I had not seen before. I missed the dramatically different landscapes out west. I missed seeing antelopes and prairie dogs. I even missed the truck stops. I think I have enough points on my Pilot Professional Driver’s Card for a free shower by now. But I’ll probably never know for sure, because motels I stay in tend to have showers in the rooms. But I knew I could not stay in the situation I was in. I could see the future, and the future was a never-ending cycle of poverty, stress and depression.
One of the things I had really enjoyed on the road was driving along and having these little blog posts form in my mind. When I stopped for the night, I’d take out the laptop, and start writing. And I was so very gratified that other people enjoyed my posts as well. What started as self therapy turned into something far better. And while I was in Chambersburg, that old writing muse had seldom, if ever, come back.
So I contacted the guy I worked for, and arranged for a return to the road. I turned in two months notice at the station… because they had been very good to me… and they decided that that they would cut the cord a lot sooner than the end of March. I’m glad, too, because I’m not sure I would have come out of that windowless room alive (the real one, and the the metaphorical one.) So it’s back to the road.And soon, I hope, other destinations aside from the Pacific Northwest may materialize as well.
I remember thinking that this bus delivery gig would be perfect for a single guy. I had no desire to test that theory, but now I’ll be performing that exact test. Now, I’ll have nobody to come home to. Nobody to call every morning to tell how much I love her. Nobody to take me to pick up the buses, or to pick me up at the airport when I come home. So we’ll now see if this loneliness with a mission will somehow be fulfilling, or just lonely.
The thing is, I’m a pretty social guy. I’d love the opportunity to become involved again with community theater… to become a volunteer maybe… to be part of a group. And if I’m alone almost all of the time, those things just won’t be possible. On the other hand, maybe this driving and writing will lead me somewhere that now I don’t even suspect.
In 1978, Bruce Jay Friedman wrote a sadly funny book called The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life. I think maybe I’ll see if I can pick up a copy.