Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The East of my Youth, the West of My Future

An epic road trip called for an epic bon voyage lunch.

You know, "Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road," as Kerouac put it.

The honor of my presence was requested at Can Can at 2 p.m. by the friend doing the departing so we could have one last gabfest before she and her man took off for places unseen and adventures unimaginable as they cross the country to the West coast and back.

Unwilling to sit inside (for some unfathomable reason, the front windows were closed on this beautiful Spring day), we took a table on the patio next to the flower vendor and partially shaded by a large tree, where I heard about the minutiae of planning a trip of this kind, which involves, it seems, picnic backpacks, plastic bins for clothes and a 30-year old sleeping bag acquired by her man from redeemable points on Marlboro cigarette packs.

No less than Kerouac himself would have approved of the procurement method.

Taking Orson Welles' advice, "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what's for lunch," we did, matching our choices to the warm day.

Both of us wound up choosing the plat du jour of seared scallops over a cucumber/avocado gazpacho with crisp seasonal veggies (beautiful radish slices as thin as a postcard) and paprika oil, an exquisite combination.

I got to hear about the itinerary, tickled to hear that the first stop was in Memphis so I could recommend a hotel right on the Mississippi where I'd stayed, then on to New Mexico next for the serious camping experience.

The funny part? My friend has never, well, actually camped.

Truth be told, I haven't either unless you count one night in the back of a VW Squareback when it was raining so hard my then-boyfriend took pity on me and set up camp in the way-back rather than subject a camping virgin to the hell of a soggy first time.

Smart man. He didn't last for other reasons, but that was his second most brilliant move in a three year relationship.

I give my girl high points for even agreeing to take this trip, although I wasn't surprised to hear that the original time frame of three months on the road has wisely been shortened to four weeks. Even so, she's a bit worried since she was more than ready to get home after only two weeks in France.

And that trip included Paris.

It's hard to say what my tolerance for such a trip might be, although the idea of fresh vistas, all-new experiences and endless conversation opportunities certainly appeal to me, even if the thought of campgrounds and sleeping bags don't.

Of course, they can always bag the trip at any point and set the GPS for Richmond, although it might be harder to do if only one person is having a miserable time.

Like Kerouac wrote, "The best teacher is experience and not through someone's distorted point of view." There's only one way to get an "A" in that class and that's to strike out for places unknown.

Dessert was a given - the darkest of chocolate pot de cremes for me, profiteroles for her - as she ticked off the many tasks she still has to complete before their intended departure Thursday. She's already angling to move that to Friday so she can vacuum and change the bed linens before they go.

Just like a woman, always thinking ahead and, in this case, wanting to come home to a clean house. She's a better woman than I am for even thinking of such a thing.

After a couple of hours, we had to part ways because she had more trip errands to do and I needed to work. I expect my next contact from her will be a postcard showing fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.

Whether she makes it the entire trip sleeping in that ancient Marlboro sleeping bag or not, she will be the hero of her own epic adventure. She's got miles to go before I see her again.

But no matter, the road is life.


  1. so glad we had lunch - now I can climb up on the Conestoga and go west...

    oh dear god.