Amuse bouche

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

Originally, I believed that, so help me, dog, if I heard this frickin’ adage one more time, I was going to swallow my own tongue and/or rip it out of my mouth and smack silly with it the next person who dared speak these words to me. However, I’ve recently had time to really think about what this means and have now decided to interpret this in an entirely different way.

It’s not often a thirty-eight-year-old woman takes off on the interstate with no pre-arranged plans of where she’s going, where she’s sleeping, and when she’s coming back unless her name is either Thelma or Louise, but that’s exactly what I decided to do a month ago when I felt my life was crumbling around me and the only way I knew to escape was to plow through the wreckage in a rental car.

Three years ago, after changing careers and landing a job at a prestigious (albeit poorly paying) publishing house in midtown Manhattan, I decided to move to this great city, but, over the course of as many years, I started to realize that it takes a certain person to live here and that person might not be me. After all, I’m known to hug strangers, not push them out of the way to get into a subway car before the doors close on my heel/purse/earring, so I knew something was amiss when I found myself yelling to a group of people on the sidewalk in front of me one day to “get the hell out of the way!”

It was time to leave the city…even if only temporarily.

Armed with a road atlas, my cell phone, a handful of self-help audio books, a small suitcase of matching separates and toiletries, my driver’s license, and my keen sense of direction, I set out to shake the New York off of me in hopes of coming back rejuvenated and ready to face the city again with a whole new attitude. And if that didn’t work, I would become a truck stop diner waitress in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and change my name to Pearl.

I ended up covering nearly a dozen states in just under a week, from Pennsylvania and Indiana to Missouri and West Virginia. My mission was to make many stops along the way to breathe in the clean, fresh, Midwest air, shop at the local farmers’ markets off the highways (I actually lost seven pounds by eating mostly produce on this trip), chat it up with the attendants every time I stopped for gas, and, most importantly, answer the burning life questions that I had brought along in my head with me like, “What else is out there for me and does it have outlet shopping?”

Overall, I clocked about 3,300 miles of nothing but alone time with myself and the sprawling country in front of me. To some, that might be the scariest thing ever and, at some points, it was; but I learned that, while I may not have the answers to all of my questions (yet), I have a natural ability to make people feel comfortable around me, I can assimilate into most any situation, and I am fearless. I enjoy being in the company of me and I’m happy to take her wherever I go.

And if she ever gets on my nerves, well, there’s always Wyoming.

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