Had a friend tell me today that he thinks God created America from West to East, and that somewhere in the middle He got worn out so He incorporated 500 miles of wasteland. Now that I've almost driven completely across that state I'd have to agree.
Nothing but fields; not even cattle, just land. Perhaps an occasional frozen lake, maybe.
And man was it dark.
Some of the darkest dark possible; which happens when there's nothing.
I would look in my side view mirrors and only see blackness, then experience a minor panic attack that I've lost my vision only to remember that I'm fine, there are just no headlights as far as the eyes can see.
No highway lights.
No one else.
Driving on a highway alone at 8 pm is an experience that is rare after living in Atlanta. All I could see was full moon reflecting off snowy Kansas fields.
I believed that if I stopped the car and unrolled my windows I could possibly hear miles and miles of silence.
It was beautiful.
These kind of road trips are relaxing to me. Conversation ebbs and flows with Lauren as we drive across the bread basket of America.
Subjects ranging from deep discussion on forgiveness and forgetting, to cookies and attractive country singers. Thoughtful reflections while blaring One Republic and Mumford & Sons and quickly skipping over Black Eyed Peas simply because three times in one hour was more than we could take.
Car dances would occur and once again fade into a random conversation that would take both of us drifting into what this new season would hold.
Promises of change.
Embracing newness instead of locking our knees.
Adventure and laughter.
Depth would dissolve into hunger as we'd rummage for my grandmothers chocolate chip cookies, a traveling staple, and count the miles till Kansas City BBQ.
Pit stops were always at Cracker Barrel. Where else could you use the bathroom and experience childhood nostalgia? The perfect storm.
I came out of the restroom to find Lauren lost amongst the Yankee Candles, proudly stating, "I've smelled ALL of them. Now let me tell you which ones are great and why."
This is why I love Lauren. This is why she came on this trip. To get lost smelling candles in a Cracker Barrel in the middle of Kansas.
We spent ten minutes smelling them and naming what memory, holiday, food or person each one smelled like. One smelled like men's aftershave or body wash.
Clean. Crisp. Rugged.
We breathed deeply, then quickly shelved it mutually agreeing that smell was dangerous.
Others smelled of Thanksgiving, clean laundry, beach memories, and my personal favorite: a cozy fire in a log cabin.
Yes, that's a smell. Blend of wood, cinnamon, and all things warm.
We returned to the 4Runner, which has become an extension of our bodies due to the last 14 hours we've spent in it. Mumford & Sons is turned up, and we head back into the dark nothingness.
I don't mind it anymore. It's restful.
Creates space for contemplation, and allows peace to creep in.
Lauren reads chapters from a book that spawn interesting questions, and even deeper thought.
Black eyed peas gets changed again and we settle into the haunting, relaxing sound of Brooke Fraser.
Road trips can be simple.
Sometimes the choice to find joy in the simple things makes all the difference. Simple things like, darkness and Yankee candles.