Going West

I have started to trek in a westerly direction on Interstate 10 through Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana.  Tomorrow, Texas.  It feels a bit strange to be heading back toward Los Angeles.  And to be back on what we in the City of Angels affectionately (or not-so-affectionately) refer to as “The 10.”  I started my journey, both times, on The 10, and within not too long a time, I will finish the journey on The 10.  The inevitably of the trip’s conclusion scares me a bit.  There are people I’m excited to see in the cities that lie ahead, but I also feel like I’m approaching an uncertain future at a rapid pace.  I still need to visit the 200-or-so “local” Facebook friends who live in Los Angeles upon my return.  But there’s a lot that’s unknown.  It could be exciting. It could be terrifying.  I will definitely be sad when it’s all over.  I guess it’s somewhat analogous to graduating.

When I was senior in high school at Parkway West (the other high schools in the district also had cardinal directions in their names), a girl in the choir named Erica composed a song called “Going West” for a pep rally.  She sang the lead solo backed by a quartet of four senior guys.  The only part I remember about the song is the beginning of the chorus when Erica sang the title words, her voice soaring as the lyrics talked about stepping into the future with confidence and hope.  So I’ve been singing those words over and over as mile after mile of The 10 rises up to greet me.

The growing anxiety of completing the journey is quelled by the thrills of what’s happening day-by-day.  I’m currently in New Orleans, a new city for me, and one I’ve always wanted to visit.  Yesterday when I arrived, it was raining, and the city felt heavy.  My cousin pointed out that you can see the age of this city, all the wear and tear, a little more when it rains.  Even so, New Orleans boasts and unquenchable liveliness.  Today the sun shone and I enjoyed a morning stroll in the Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden.  I drove down Bourbon St. in the French Quarter.  And then I drove through the Lower Ninth Ward, or what remains of it.  This area was the hardest hit by the floods after Hurricane Katrina, and the neighborhood of a lot of people who were evacuated to Houston.  I went with a team to work at the Astrodome in August of 2005 and was confronted by the extensive effects of communal trauma and devastation on these Ninth Ward neighbors.  Remembering the journeys of those brave souls puts my own uncertainty in immediate perspective.

I’ve also had the pleasure of reconnecting with Friend #1, Scott, here in New Orleans.  It was fun to catch up on everything that has happened since my first day (and his first week) on the road.  Scott is not using fuel for an entire year, taking what he calls a carbon sabbath.  Check out the link to his blog where he details riding his bike for 8500 miles thus far around the country, in order to promote discussion on climate change.  It’s been good for me to reflect on the earlier days of this journey and everything I’ve seen and learned, everyone I’ve encountered since.  And what an incredible journey it has been!



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