It all broke.
Well at least my car did.
To let some light through.
I drove her into the ground, literally. She had been my trusty companion of 17 years. We had traversed desert raves and Southwest road trips, Burning Mans and coming-of-age stories, singing out loud and screaming out windows, and driving to different schools and grocery stores and jobs and everywhere else a car can take you.
And there she was, on the side of the The Loneliest Road in America in the Nevada desert: one electric window down past the point of no return, a passenger-side wheel blown out across desolate desert asphalt, a driver-side wheel scraped to its metal innards, grinding out its own swan song, and the paint eaten away from the radiator fluid that had spewed over 10 feet in a breakdown two days prior.
What a great place to finally break. She and I were Nevadans after all.
Oh epic journeys. It’s funny how they actually work out. I had visions of desert hot springs, Great Basin Bristlecones, cabin cribbage with a good friend in the Rocky Mountains, and a solo camp trip weaving through the layered desert colors and sandstone sculptures of Arches and Canyonlands.
And of me, finding myself somewhere in-between.
The calm before the storm was beautiful, as it usually goes, submerged in hot springs overlooking a desert meadow full of wildflowers under the full moon. It was here I took out all I had left of a painful ending to a relationship of 3 ½ years that I have been desperately trying to let go of over the past year. I thought I would cry, but under this full blue moon I took out letters and pictures and other assorted mementos and one by one held and thanked them. Then I burned or bathed them in desert moonwater. Afterward, I turned to this new man who held intimate space for me and, yes, we actually danced naked in a hot spring under the desert moonlight, a man to whom I was also saying goodbye. The next morning I woke up early, walked straight in between the sand and sage, and buried what I thought I couldn’t let go of.
We made it another 100 miles before she gave out close to Ely. And after side-of-the-road hitchhiking, desert-weathered car mechanics, a night drinking and playing pool in the locals’ bar, a small-desert-town-three-police-stop while getting my tent out of my car, and crying and camping in a train ditch, we got back in and headed to Great Basin National Park. I thought I’d make it all the way to Colorado, but I realized within hours nothing was really healed. It was all just temporarily fixed to get me to my next point. At least I made it to the Bristlecones Pines, some of the oldest known living things on the planet. I touched my forehead to a 3300-year-old tree still gnarling toward the sky through winds and rain at tree-line, reminding me that all beings weather adversity.
I had started this pilgrimage with an intention. In an effort to remember who I wanted to be, I decided I needed a trip to put me back in the right space. As a seasoned traveler, that is often the way I roll. I started this one with the intention of giving, receiving, and letting go.
So this is the part where I’ll interject to say that I highly DO NOT recommend a breakup trip. Nothing was quite as romantically parting-of-ways as imagined, except that night in the moonlight. We fought too much, from too little sleep, too much car trouble, and from taking a trip to break up. And besides the obvious, when you take a breakup trip things break, a lot…like everything.
Which brings me to waiting for a tow on the side of the Loneliest Road in America. It wasn’t so bad really, with lots of caring passer-bys, stopping to make sure we were ok and one even giving us waiting-for-a-tow beers. It was here I finally stretched out, looked into a cracking desert sky, and realized I had indeed let go to the best of my ability so far.
I let go of a pain that had turned my heart inside out for the past year, with a touch of gratitude. I let go of Lola, my 91′ Toyota Corolla, who had literally navigated me through the majority of my adult life. I let go of a man I still cared for, knowing it was time. And I let go of the person I had been, thanking it all.
All these intentions and hurts and desires went out of me and into the Nevada desert, into the smell of freshly opened sage flowers, into the desert sky silhouetted in wraps of grays and silvers and streaks of sunlight.
That is where it all broke.
That is where I broke.
That is where it opened up and some light came through.
Ever break so much you fall apart in the best way possible?