The Calm before the Storm i.e. the days before the Journey
When I realized that I would have to go a different institution for the summer to further my education career I had a choice to make. Do I fly or do I drive. Could I live without my car for 8 weeks? Could I move for 8 weeks to a new place without some shred of my property? The answer became a resounding NO. So the task became how one goes about driving the 1900 plus miles from sunny California to the Midwest cheese state of Wisconsin. There were many hours spent on the internet tracking and mapping out my journey, I have been blessed to be able to arrange my trip and my overnight pit stops with friends and family. I logically weighed every element and factor and realized that the amount of money I would spend flying (plus shipping clothes and materials) would be just as expensive as the gas money and possible food on the road. I am a very thoughtful, logical, and almost extreme planner with all aspects of my life. So it was with this in my back pocket that I started to tell people my plans.
To say I was surprised about the reactions I received is an understatement. I knew that there would be a fair amount of responses surrounding the fact that I am driving by myself but I wasn’t truly prepared for the amount of disagreement and disbelief. I have had to endure on two different occasions people telling me that not only was I stupid, but that I could not undertake this journey. I was told that I wasn’t aware how long the trip it was or that I was stupid for wanting a car for the short 8 weeks. That as a single woman, it would be too dangerous for me to be driving across country. That because I couldn’t find someone to drive with me, I should just scrap the whole plan. (Yet, these people were unaware that the majority of my friends are also fellow students, who do not have the amount of disposable income to not merely go on this trip, but afford a flight back from Wisconsin. Added to the fact that I do not have the money to pay for their flights) they couldn’t understand my need for my car. Interestingly enough these naysayers were male.
It has been interesting that people outside of my inner circle; friends, acquaintances, even strangers were hopeful and exciting about the journey, about the adventure, and about the sites to be seen. Many of which were still supportive after they found out this was a solo journey. They offered suggestions about being smart while driving such long distances. But it was the responses of some of my closest people that took me for a loop. On one hand, I see that their responses were because of their deep connection and investment in my wellbeing and safety. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder 1. Would they be as vocal in their concern and disapproval if I was a man? 2. Would they be this concerned if I as a woman was going with others (and more specifically if one of those said companions was a man?)
As a woman, I have been conditioned, trained, and molded to understand that lurking around every corner is a potential threat towards my person. My father paid for self-defense classes, I attended many rallies about female safety and rape prevention events at my undergraduate university, and I even had an ex-boyfriend proceed to teach me many different ways to kill, maim, and evade physical threats. One of the lasting fragments from all these years of ‘prevention’ has taught me that one of the best things a single woman can have is the ability, independence, and a form of control over a situation. It just so happens that my car has become all of these. The ability to not only transport more of my stuff for this eight week intensive program, but also the capacity to go and come as I please for these said eight weeks. The locality of my gender and my relationship status seems to dictate a life which is not acceptable any longer.
The best situation would have been to have company along the way, to share the memories with someone else. Alas, it is not so. So despite the optimal outcome, I have decided to make lemonade out of life’s lemons, to grab the bull by the horns, and to take the plunge. The naysaying only encouraged me further. It only lit the fire more to show that as a single woman, I can be smart, I can be aware, and I can drive the 1900 miles all by myself. It is my rite of passage, it is my quest to show the world that despite the hardship, ugliness, and violence that lurks around every corner, it will not deter me it will strengthen my resolve.