Most of my life felt like I wanted to crack the door and let it all escape, like visiting a pet store and having an urge to free the puppies. A split second image comes to mind of prisoners running free while standing in slow motion satiated. I needed out. It started with a broken heart…as most things do. Weeks of planning and everything that could go wrong did. It was a wedding day horror story. I even had a fractured meta something while setting out to run a half marathon. Stoic and steady through every shake-the-head-in-disbelief moment I held on like a child white knuckled to a balloon knowing I’d finally be leaving my cage. It’s as cliché as it gets, small town suburbia girl who barely left her Midwestern state except a few times on an airplane. Then living yet another cliché, I finally pulled away at 8:00 pm alone on a rainy night only knowing I was headed left. The rushing thought landed in my mind just as the appeasement rolled out of my mouth, I was free as a bird. It was supposed to take five days tops to get to California. It took twelve.
I set out alone for six weeks simply to go to a place I’ve never been to do something I never have. I was told to bring a gun, not to trust and not to talk to strangers. But soon after leaving I realized everyone had it all wrong. Karma carried me on it’s back in the form of a gray haired lady in the red sand at sunset to show me the way out. It came in a man who back packed across Alaska who’d be happy to tie my bike rack on in the pouring rain and a couple from the south who talk over each other and insist on buying me a drink in a mountain town. I learned that being alone was never what I was and if you let your guard down enough to let people in then you get to grow. I learned if you cant find the farmers market people on the streets eating carrots will point you in the right direction. And maps are useless. It turns out the best things to find are the ones you didn’t know you were looking for, just turn a corner and art on the streets will be a welcome surprise. I have learned that Kansas has the best sky, huge bands of pink and orange and blue that are left between the clouds hang as though it’s on ropes. It could only be stage hands holding them up with might and dropping them down as I moved through. I’d never know it wasn’t real, it was all for my benefit. Altitude is sticky, it’s not easy to leave behind. Colorado has the best air. It’s different in a way each breath is sudden and too good to be true. I was constantly aware I was alive and it is always a beautiful circumstance to be in. Seeing the Pacific ocean for the first time is so astonishing it hurts to turn your back to it. You only can when the last drop of the sun sinks into it. I have learned that over packing is under rated, a girl should always have a pair of heels, and you should always drive into a city of lights in the night. Hotels that seem haunted while checking in at 2:00 am are alive by the time coffee can be delivered. Your college age bellhop will always know the best place to have breakfast. If someone tells you to go to a town, go, they know something you don’t. Always keep cash and always keep valet tickets. If for nothing else but parking meters and the homeless. I have learned that while what man has built will make you smile, what the gods have built will bring you to tears. I know that broken bones and broken hearts only make you stronger. Inevitably somewhere in the middle of running away from something you start running toward something else. You don’t need miles to count or banners that declare finish after all. You just have to line up.
I came back to my small suburbia life to more everything that could go wrong. A car stuck in Reno, a business that nearly crumbled, a dissolved relationship. I was asked if I have any regrets. The memories of those six weeks reel through my mind like an old black and white movie distant and nostalgic… the time I was free as a bird and the answer clearly is no.
About The Author: Candice Krim is a small town girl planning her next great big adventure.
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