I didn’t think I would actually ever leave Louisiana. We kept postponing the trip like an addict pushes back the day to quit “for good”. We had relevant reasons though. Nick, my lil bro from University House, decided to come with me only a week before the departure date and I had overlooked the dramatic graduation events. My slogan the week before graduation was, “It takes more time than you think and it’s never what you expect.”
My original intent was to leave the day after graduation. I didn’t realize moving, buying a car, contacting banks and Netflix, postponing mail, visiting friends and family, and packing would take so much time. The more I put it off, the more hesitant I was to leave.
For months all I could think of was my great adventure to the West. But as my final semester neared and I grew closer to a new group of friends, I was rethinking my decision to go. For the first time in years I felt at home, at home. I lost the motivation to search because I felt I had finally found everything I was looking for. However, all of the signs for me to venture into the unknown began to find me.
I had let fear rule my life for too long. Fear was creeping into my soul and whispering sweet nothings into my heart. Fear was the exact reason I first planned to go on the trip. Now I was growing too afraid to leave because I was scared to lose what I had finally gained or that when I returned home things wouldn’t be the same. What’s that cliche again? You know something is real if you let it go and it comes back to you?
Nick and I finally departed Lafayette at 7p.m. on Thursday. We hung Buddhist prayer flags inside my Element, packed the roomy interior to full capacity, checked the tire pressure and oil and took off. Willie Nelson’s “On the road again” accompanied our beginning on I-49.
We discussed how we both wanted this to be a pure, cleansing experience. By Alexandria we were both craving nicotine, but by Natchitoches settled for sunflower seeds, packed jerky and mint gum…but not all at the same time.
I drove the first shift to Dallas and then napped until Moore, Oklahoma. The Tom Tom was correct until it led us to the wrong house in Moore instead of Oklahoma City. We didn’t arrive to my friends’ house until 4a.m.
It felt like home as soon as we walked in. Kayla and Parry greeted us with tired eyes and open arms. Kayla told me their 5-year-old daughter Remy had been getting up every 30 minutes or so. We hadn’t let her know that I was driving in that morning. I went hop on her bed (with Kayla’s consent) and gave her a big hug. She opened her eyes and once they focused and she had realized it was me, she screamed “I knew it Leecee! I knew you were going to be here!”
We tucked her in, drank some Sleepy-time tea and called it a night/morning on the super sectional sofa that we will call bed for the next few days.
We really started our first day with a nap. By 10a.m. Remy snuggled up with me on my side of the couch. She is currently finishing kindergarten at an art elementary school and they don’t start class until noon. Her first question was, “Can I read you a poem I wrote?”
“Sure” I said as my body started to crave coffee.
“The spirit is your life. Life is your home.”
Pretty profound for a five year-old and for the first thought of the day. We then went sit on the porch and I played guitar and drank coffee while she danced on the lawn.
Kayla and I walked her to school and then explored the neighborhood a bit. They live in downtown Oklahoma City, the state’s capital. Their neighborhood is so quaint despite being in the busiest part of the city. It’s absolutely perfect: right next to the art district-which has a festival this weekend, the library and museums are only a mile or two away, and there is a Botanical Garden that we will go to on Sunday.
The weather here is hot–dry hot. Kayla said it was in the 50’s last week and swears this is the hottest it’s been in a while. It felt nice to run in though. There are a few slight hills throughout the city; huge compared to Louisiana. It’ll be interesting to see how I’ll make it through the mountains when I get to Colorado.
We finished the first day here with a home-cooked dinner: pork tenderloin with mushrooms in a balsamic glaze, green beans and Polenta, which is a form of corn meal, kind of like grits.
Here’s how I knew we weren’t in Louisiana anymore. We were sitting on the porch after dinner and had finished a bottle of wine. We were contemplating if we should go get another bottle when Parry pointed out it was after 9p.m. and we could no longer buy alcohol.
Evidently the law here is no wine or alcohol after 9 p.m. and only beer under three points are allowed for purchase.
I was too tired to drink anymore anyway, but wow. It kind of puts an emphasis to me about how loose Louisiana laws really are. You can buy alcohol until 2a.m. in stores, and some bars stay open all night. Gas stations and convenient stores are normally pretty well stocked. There are drive-through daiquiri stores. Sunday is the only day with some restriction due to deep-rooted Catholic tradition to keep holy the Sabbath, and some places don’t really apply the prohibition.
I don’t want to make me or my state sound like a bunch of lushes, but we certainly know how to celebrate life on almost a daily basis with those we love. At least in South Louisiana. North Louisiana is almost like a completely different state. I think it has to do with the difference in religions.
But I digress. It is time to rest. It’s only my first day and I had an amazing introduction to the journey and a new city. If this is a hint as what is to come, I can’t wait to see the rope unravel.
A few quick notes. I will be chronicling my expenses to give a rough estimate of the cost, along with how my vehicle holds up. There were also a few challenges made to me before I left. I have to run at sunrise at least three times a week, do Yoga on Thursdays and push-ups before I run. I will post which poses I will work on each week for anyone else who wants to partake in the union of breath.
Finally. The “grossest” challenge. I will try to see what it is like to not shave the entire trip. It’s only been a week and my legs are driving me crazy. There are a few reasons I obliged to the bet. First, it is the best chastity belt to keep me out of trouble. Second, it would be easy to not worry about having to shave these long legs. The time saved on a daily basis could be worth it. Third, I always find people’s reactions to breaking social norms very interesting. The hair on my body doesn’t make me any less of who I am and it really does say a lot about a person who can overlook superficial boundaries.
But I may absolutely hate the outcome. I’m a fan of smooth legs. However, when I run my hand along my arm, it is soft and sensual. If there is any chance the hair on my legs could be like that after a month of feeling scruffy, it may be worth it. And there’s only one way to find out and that is to try it out for myself. It could be liberating or annoying. Either way I’m not too proud to attempt the task. There’s a good chance I’ll never see anyone in these states again and if I do, then they probably see the real me and understand the test.