When I left off, the night of 10/14 was turning into the morning of 10/15.
That last night at work dragged by. My car was packed, down in the parking garage, and when 10:00am finally came I was ready to roll!
Then I started remember half a million things I needed to do at work. I wasn't exactly leaving; I was transitioning. A better job, with better pay, but with the same organization.
I was lucky.
I worked for a radio network, writing and producing for their morning show. When I went in to give notice, the show didn't want to lose me, so they made a deal to hire me directly (with help, actually, from my soon-to-be former boss).
This almost never happens in radio. I really was very lucky.
So I needed a ton of things off of my work computer, which in my haste to get everything else done, I'd completely forgotten about. If you've moved from one city to another even once, I'm sure you can relate.
I spent more time than I wanted to, loading up an external hard drive with all my stuff. In my over-excited state, I made dumb mistakes and this took much longer than I wanted it to. Or than it needed to.
Finally, I was able to toss it, my laptop and my headphones into my car, and finally hit the road.
I had tried to plan as best I could, knowing I'd get a late start. And that I'd be tired. So that first day, seven years ago, I had a short goal. I just wanted to get out of the states where I'd been living, so I could really feel like my new life was beginning.
I was exhausted, forced to stop at a Hardee's to load up on Dr. Pepper. The jolt of sugar and caffeine helped me keep going. And then I passed the sign that instantly reinvigorated me.
I chased the last rays of sunlight west, and briefly considered dumping my plan and going further that first day. The lack of sleep started to take its toll, though, and once I started seeing signs for Pittsburgh I was ready to call it a day.
When I was three-going-on-four, we lived in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, which is just outside of Pittsburgh. I don't remember much about it. In fact, I only remember two things clearly.
The other thing I remember is that my favorite show was Sid and Marty Kroft's H.R. Pufnstuf. If I remember right, in the episode pictured above, Jimmy was trying to get off the island and go home, and the witch was after Freddie.
Obviously, with images of snowy deer and talking flutes in my head, it was time to get off the road.
I had a reservation at a Hampton Inn just off the highway, checked in and got on my laptop to book my next night's stay. My plan was to get up at the crack of dawn and get to St. Louis in time for dinner.
I was also talking to Lisa often on my cell as I traveled, and wanted to at least be in Ohio by the time she woke up the next morning.
I listened to a lot of Maroon 5, Dashboard Confessional and Styx on that first day. The Styx was actually Dennis DeYoung, performing the Music of Styx with an orchestra. Amazingly, I didn't get sick of any of the music on this trip. In part, because I had so many CDs with me, but also, I think it was due to how excited I was to be on this journey.
I've liked Styx for a long time. Their music used to remind me of good times in high school (when Paradise Theater and Kilroy Was Here came out). Now, a lot of what I hear from them reminds me of an October evening in Pennsylvania, when I was driving toward the sunset, toward Lisa and toward my new life in California.
So here's what shuffled out of my Styx playlist as I wrote this...
"The Grand Illusion"
"Too Much Time On My Hands"
"Not Dead Yet"
"Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)"
"Sing For The Day"
A little over 600 miles to go tomorrow. I better get some rest!