Like a line, pencil-drawn, like someone had sliced the sky in half: where the blue stopped and the fog began. We drove beneath the division, up the curve of coastal mountains, and into the gray like a tunnel. The windows dimmed and the road darkened.
We’d entered our weekend: a summer wedding on the California coast.
Ain’t no sunshine. Hardly ever. The final wedding of my summer of love (other people’s love, that is—5 wedding invitations!) was a destination wedding at Asilomar, a state beach conference/retreat center near Monterey. Which meant that no matter what the rest of the state was cooking in, we were wrapped in an impenetrable blanket of fog all weekend.
The 101 had been hot, pink forearms and moaning wind. Gabe and I hadn’t had the chance to really catch up in a couple years, and there was a lot to talk about: dating and work, sickness and family, the little turns our lives had taken, as though our roads were getting clearer, more defined: yellower lines and harder asphalt. He played me his new band’s demo (“crust/doom metal from the woods of Northern California”) and we fell into that comfortable quiet of old friends.
Then I felt it stir in me.
Which was funny, because I was only driving 2 hours away for a wedding. But it was there, undeniably: the sleeping beast in me, rolling over in its nocturnal slumber—the traveler.
I don’t really know when it will strike in me—or rather, when something will strike it in me. My whole last trip, that sense of adventure and curiosity and freedom that I live for was never ignited. I never got to that mindset. But something about that highway, something about the light and the wind and the road arching up over the brown, brown hills, stirred up the traveler in me.
It’s like a meditation, traveling. I stop worrying, I stop planning, I stop thinking. I forget myself and I just experience. I get a place where I’m okay, deeply and wholly okay, and I can just sit and listen to the world humming, feel it reverberate in my own chest, like a bass line or a very small bird. I can’t do it, can’t get there, sitting crosslegged in my bedroom—the only way I’ve ever gotten to that place is traveling.
And something about that drive, something about sitting there with a dear old friend and thinking about the way our lives have taken shape, got me to that place, there—just for a moment, just for a breath. Which is all it ever really is, all you can ever hope for.
And then it smelled like garlic.
And I mean garlic. Weren’t no vampires in these parts. We were driving through Gilroy, an agricultural town filled with cherry stands and artichoke carts and tons of kitschy garlic-themed restaurants and shoppes. Every year they have a massive garlic festival; I’ve been hearing about it my whole life, and had never gone.
Gabe and I turned to each other and nodded. “On the way back?”
And then we entered the brooding gray of our weekend.