It’s morning. Friday. We pick up our friend Kelly from the airport later today. Kelly now lives in Georgia, but we met her in San Diego. Back when all of us lived there. I haven’t lived there in almost three years. For Kelly, it’s almost one. Katy now lives up in north county, where it seems most beach-lovers who spent their twenties in OB or PB end up once they approach thirty and no longer crave the party scene of their “youth.” It’s calmer there. Grown up. Which is what we seem to be doing lately. I notice it more and more with my friends. I think about people I knew from high school, and how we are all on different courses and timelines. I learn of so-and-so having their second baby or the engagement or marriage of someone I knew when I was seven or eight or twelve or whatever. Some of us have been married with children for years, and others are pushing it off just a tad bit longer. Some are searching it, some are living it, and some don’t want it. We all have our own timelines.
Katy and I are in very similar timelines in life it seems. Sometimes it feels like we are paradoxically living parallel lives, and I wonder if it has to do with our similar life perspective. There are definitely things that draw us together as the exact same, like the way we use the floor as a dresser and in our heads feel like it is a better system to find what to wear but secretly it drives us mad. Or how we wait until the very last minute to do something and have full faith that everything is going to work out completely fine. We have to pick Kelly up from the airport in Minneapolis two and a half hours away, but we still have work to do. Katy needs to finish the board and package it. I have to put in some computer time before we leave. We stand in the kitchen of Matt’s parents’ cabin. Katy is dressed in yellow shorts covered in dried paint, every drop of which has earned its spot at some point, and a brown sports bra with her hair in a big mop on top of her head. I wear my sister’s cut off jean shorts and a t-shirt I bought in Skagway. We eat buttered toast with avocado and convince ourselves we can leave at the very last minute and still make it. No time for gas and no time for unexpected road closures, both of which will become an issue.
She is in the middle of finalizing the board she has been painting during the course of our twelve days on the road. The new brand of paint pens she used in areas unfortunately runs with her preferred brand of varnish. Right now she is flapping bugs away while walking from one cabin to the next across the grass alongside the lake. She carries a big duffle bag. I wonder what she’s up to now. “Matt,” she calls. I’d say her plan is to find clothes to wear today as we head into “the cities.” That’s what she calls it as she refers to Minneapolis and St. Paul, and I still don’t understand how close they are or which one we will be in tonight when we meet her high school and college friends. Can you walk between the two? I have no idea. I will find out tonight. When we can google everything to find out something, it’s nice to sometimes let yourself find out through discovery. I struggle with that concept constantly.
I would have a completely different life had I been born just a few decades earlier, and I often dream of those times when the world was smaller. Back when every possibility was not right at our finger tips. The people that are old enough to have known life back when there were no cell phones or internet, even if only through jagged memories, are a huge part of human history. I am on the young end of it. I’m old enough to remember how life was without those things, but young enough to not have lived an adult life that way. I lived my whole childhood in that time just before internet access was a common household feature. The family computer. We put ours at our dining room table. We will talk of these times to our grandchildren the way that many tell theirs of the first time they had a TV or a radio. We are in history right this second. Hell we are making it. And I love thinking about how humans will look back to this time once we are old. Monumental changes are taking place in terms of human history right now in this era in which we all live, and every single one of us is a part of it. One day in a hundred years, a child will read about these decades with awe and wonder and ponder in a way I do now of the way life was “back then.” And perhaps they will long for it in a way you can only do for something you are absolutely positive you will never get to experience.
It’s hard to not think of time and history and people when I am traveling in the places I have been traveling the last two weeks. It’s reminiscent of an older time; one not too far distant in our past but also extremely different at the same time. Buildings from another life still stand, just barely, in areas that seem forgotten. It’s almost eerie.
It’s later now. I am finally in the passenger seat. I have been the driver for the last two weeks, and it feels nice to be sitting back and relaxing all cool while Katy drives. We are listening to Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting For you”. I excitedly stopped Katy on this song as she scanned the radio stations, for this is a song I group into a type of music I endearingly classify as soft-rock-love-hit-favorites-from-the-80s-and-90s, and I have an affinity for these corny ballads. It’s ironic, too, because someone is waiting for us.
Kelly. She sits at the airport. She says she isn’t mad, but we know Kelly. She’s not happy that we are late. It makes it worse that it is so typical of Katy and me together. This is Kelly’s first impression of the trip. She and I will be driving back to Seattle together. We are leaving Katy in Minnesota with her boyfriend, and Kelly will be my new road partner.
It’s Saturday morning now. Katy, Kelly and I just returned from a pleasant morning stroll through a quaint neighborhood in South Minneapolis. The architecture is different here, but I can’t quite place it. Already the heat is stifling even in the early hour, and I wonder if I could live in a place with such humidity. Yesterday we crossed over the Mississippi and something so small felt so big.