Now that Sash and I have hit the 3-month mark on our motorcycle road trip across the USA, I find my perception of community greatly altered.
That is, we just left Sash's uncle house in Lincoln University, PA, where we stayed for five nights. Her uncle lamented our departure, and repeated his assurances that we were invited to stay with him again at any time.
"Yeah, we'll definitely be back on our next swing to the East", I said, referring to our plans to make our motorcycle road trip an indefinite, if not permanent, way of living.
But isn't riding your motorcycle across the United States, from one coast to the other, supposed to be a huge endeavor? Isn't that something riders only do once (maybe twice) in their lifetime? Yet here I was, telling Sash's uncle that we'll be back soon, right after we ride back to California for a breather.
It's like my sense of geographic neighborhood has changed. Somehow, my "backyard" just got huge, really huge, in a short span of time.
In fact, just this evening, Sash and I talked about our next nine months of destinations, spitting out names like Montana, Texas, Florida, South Dakota, as if they're just weekend getaways, like the distances between these states are insignificant. I mean, it used to be that going to Texas was a vacation. It meant saving up money, asking for time off, and paying the neighbor's kid to pick up newspapers off the driveway.
Now, Texas is just another fix in our road trip addiction.
"What do you feel like mainlining? Some Indiana? Some Wyoming? I hear Oregon will get you really fucked. Yeah, let's shoot some Oregon!"
I mean, the sense of how far and how long it takes to ride a motorcycle to one of these states is now lost on me. They're just names now. They all have motels, they all have bars, and they all have Wi-Fi. Otherwise, what's really difference between Oklahoma and Pennsylvania?
And we'll do those countries in time.
But then what? Will I be telling a sad-faced Alejandra that we'll be back to see her on our next swing to Chihuahua? Will Sash and I start tossing up names like Yukon, Nunavut, and Prince Edward Island as if they're in the same backyard as Palm Springs and Bakersfield?
I guess as I get to a point where I become more desensitized of how far away these places are, the unique topography of the land, the accent in the voices, and the nuances in the culture, all becomes static white noise when I walk outside of my motel room. It's still just sunshine and asphalt, birds and butterflies, barking dogs and honking horns.
Some mornings I wake up, and I try to recall what State I'm in.