the freedom of the road

Road trip to Matehuala

I am an overthinker, and when my mind circles around things for too long, then I get stressed and procrastinate so that I can avoid those things I was thinking about. Last week, my overthinking led me to watch the entire Netflix series on Mexican singer Luis Miguel. My friend Esme, a chef, texted me to ask where I had been or if I had found new friends or something because she hadn’t seen me. And she invited me to take a road trip to visit her dad in Matehuala for his birthday. Below is a photo of her dad Carlos in his VW bug with his dog Siri.

The VW van with no gas gauge

Even though I had work I needed to be doing, I decided to go on the road trip, at least in part because Esme has this incredible VW bus with a blue velvet interior and her dogs Ámbar and Tlaloc travel in it. Ámbar is like a human being, has a lot of emotional sensitivity. Tlaloc is a brute who in moments of pure joy can jump out of a moving car or knock you over with his enthusiasm. And I knew that I needed a road trip in an old car with no AC and the wind in my hair and a beer in my hand (I wasn’t driving) where Esme and I would sing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at the top of our lungs and then the car would break down on the side of the road at night and we would need to go find a new cable for the clutch and Esme would have to hitchhike to find the cable while I stayed in the car with the dogs and Tlaloc would jump out the window even though he was on a leash and would break off a toenail and bleed like a stuck pig. And then Esme would get picked up by a nice young lesbian who would invite us to stay the night at her apartment since we couldn’t get our car fixed. And we would take the nice young lesbian to dinner and she would quiz us about our lives, amazed at seeing two grown women alone on the road doing whatever they wanted. And then the second day we would fix the clutch but run out of gas on a desolate highway because the gas gauge in the VW doesn’t work. And some guys would siphon gas out of their car into a 2-liter of Coke and gave it to us. But then we would run out of gas a second time.

Open road, open mind

We made it to Matehuala eventually, and I felt so thrillingly good and alive and ready to write. A writing idea that I had been carrying around for years suddenly came together. I needed the wind. The dogs. The singing. The hitchhiking. The friendly lesbian curious about women living big, creative lives. The sun on my face. The dog jumping out the window. I needed to feel the pulse of this crazy world. And now I’m back and energized and writing as I step on a plane to fly to Spain to present my work at the Symposium on Migration Journalism. When someone asks you to take a road trip - go. Go, go west, young woman.