Sitting at cliff's edge, 1,400 feet above the Warm Creek badlands, I flinched. Not physically, but emotionally. And not from fear of heights, but from a reluctance to actually contemplate my solitude. Reaching for my wireless lifeline, I sent a text message to A. Her reply: "stop txting and get some solitude :)".
A few hours later, I flinched again, while battling the tortured roads of the Kaiparowits Plateau. My SUV was taking serious abuse, and I was concerned that it might fail in some way -- leaving me stranded on a road where I had yet to see another car after four hours of driving. The thought of being marooned in the wilderness was unsettling (even with survival equipment), and I sought comfort in the radio. It's hard to summon the willpower to be alone when blanketed by cell phone and satellite radio coverage. I was greeted by the chorus of "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes", by Modest Mouse:
Does anybody know a way
that a body could get away?
Does anybody know a way?
I had to laugh at that -- laugh, and turn the volume as high as I could bear. Sometimes, you have to embrace the possibility that it's not just chance.
Today I realized that you're never really alone on a road trip, even if you're solo and without technology. After you've set aside the fear, gained enough distance from your regular life, and finished the immediate tasks before you -- you're still left with the journey itself, and the decision whether or not to continue. And the choice to not continue -- to abandon imperative and just be -- does not come easily to us. It's difficult to be alone.