In August of 1993, I loaded up my 1989 Subaru Justy and moved to Waco to attend graduate school at Baylor. Then, I drove home to Philadelphia for Christmas, back to Waco in January, home to Philly for spring break, back when it was over, and home to Philly for the summer. Five trips in all of about 1600 miles each. I continued this for about 6 years, occasionally adding in a quick round trip for Thanksgiving or an early return before and after a summer school session. So, on average, I made the trip about six times a year until about 2003. Now, we usually go up to Philly in June and November. So, I have probably made about 80 trips to and from Philly.
I call all this to mind as I read Breakfast with the Buddha by Roland Murillo. The main character, Otto, loads up his car at 45 years of age – my age, incidentally, when I made that first trip to Waco – for a road trip to North Dakota to settle the estates of his parents. They met an untimely demise as a result of a drunk driver who was unable to navigate on his own side of the solid yellow stripe.
Now, Otto has a passenger, which I had only a few times, to talk and while away the miles. Otto’s shotgun is a spiritual leader foisted on him by his sister, who was supposed to be his companion. Together, the two men discuss life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the definition of which also comes in for a fair amount of debate.
I really look forward to my trips to unwind, think, and enjoy roads, towns, sights, and attractions, which appeal to me on the spur of the moment. These days, my wife Ramona accompanies me, and we have similar tastes in restaurants, and what constitutes a worthwhile attraction. Our lab Marcy has recently been added to the passenger list.
But after reading Murillo – which I thoroughly enjoyed – I am glad I had all those trips alone to sort things out, relax, and generally travel at my own pace. Now, Ramona and Marcy make perfect road tripping companions.