So, this year I’ve been on Route 66. I am lifting this from a high school acquaintance who used this term for being 66. We were not friends in high school. I was weird and she was different, tougher. I loved the fact that she wore purple socks with her gymsuit every week. It was a small act of defiance. As adults, we speak to each other during high school reunions. I wasn’t going to the main event one year, just stopped in at the pre-event for a drink. She told me she was disappointed in me because we had to show up, we had to show that we had survived high school. Well, I certainly have survived high school. It was a time in my life, but it is a time in my life that I do not look back upon fondly. However, I am deeply grateful that I did not have to go to high school in this current era.
I’ve been on the real Route 66. It had always been on my bucket list except we never used that term. It was merely a list of places we wanted to go to and things we wanted to do. I have been blessed to have crossed many things off that list. My best friend and I were in New Mexico on vacation. Times are different now and we were more innocent and dumber, despite the fact that we were in our 30s. We retained a positive outlook on the world. This is not to say that the world had not harmed us or that bad things had not happened to us, they had but we had dusted them to the side. Our New Mexico trip was one of the best I ever had. We were young, irresponsible with money and drove all over the place. We loved the road. It’s part of that Route 66 mystique. To this day, I get a thrill seeing the open road in front of me. We found ourselves back in Albuquerque before we had to leave for New York. Another thing we loved to do was drink and we certainly weren’t driving. We had become friendly with the bartender. Bartenders usually liked us, not only because we drank but when we were around, men also drank. This bartender was different. She was a woman. As such, we had a different relationship with her. A cowboy came and sat down next to us. He was fascinated by us and bought us drinks. We were hard drinking women. We drank strong Scotch, unusual for women. We are special, unusual women. I remember what we wore. I define my life by clothing. My BF had a short pink wash denim miniskirt with a pink and white vertical stripe shirt. I had on my favorite black halter dress. He asked, with genuine curiosity, if I was wearing any underwear. Funny enough, I don’t remember the name of the cowboy. He liked my BF. Somehow, the topic of Route 66 came up and he volunteered to take us, to a cowboy bar, no less. We consulted with the bartender who assured us he was safe. And off we went into the night. We clambered up into his pickup. This was real! And then, he pulled his gun out from under the driver seat and told us we would be safe with him. This was back in the day when you could drive drunk relatively safely. In other words, unless you were weaving madly, he would not be stopped. I had never seen a gun in person, nor have I ever seen one again. Can I say I was freaking terrified? I thought I am going to die because we wanted to see Route 66. Route 66 was a neon blur. All’s well that ends well. We arrived back to the hotel and the cowboy tried to take my BF off the elevator in his arms. I demanded he put her down immediately. I have felt badly about that for years. However, recently I found out that she was glad. Well, that’s less weight to carry around for sure.
Reaching Route 66 has been quite a journey. I have been blessed to travel. I have been privileged to see so many things. I have seen Basques dancing outside a church in Barcelona. I have seen real flamenco in Madrid. I’ve been propositioned by Mike Tyson’s people in Tokyo. I have been driven all over Taiwan. I’ve been to an alligator farm in Taiwan. I’ve been to Punto del Este in Uruguay. We made the bus go back and forth over a Gaudi bridge. The bus had an award winning high school singing group from somewhere in South America. They sang Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on fire” in English although they did not understand a word. I’ve seen tango danced by real people in Buenos Aires. I have attended ready to wear in Paris more than once. I survived hurricane David on the beach at Club Med in Haiti. I’ve been invited to private views at museums. I have seen The Rolling Stones twice, once for my 30th birthday and once for my 50th birthday. I loved a postal postal worker and he loved me. I have been so very lucky. I didn’t know what it was at the time. But now I am on Route 66 and looking back. One of my friends said about 20 years ago or so that we should have written a book, “had I only but known”. It kind of sums it up.
And it wasn’t all the physical, material journeys. I have had the best, the very best people in my life. I have been lucky enough to recognize that. So much love and support. I had a dream of knowing people from all over and it has happened. It’s wonderful. I used to take books out of the library when I was little about different countries and I wanted to learn different languages and I have!
What I didn’t account for was the presence of AA’s in my life- Alcoholism and autoimmune disease. My husband has one and I have the other. Actually, alcoholism is a family disease, so I have two. Not so lucky. A change in the bucket list or the dream list or whatever you want to call it. I am almost completely immobile. I can no longer say that when I sit down, I feel like me. That is no longer the case. I look in the mirror some days and I see a little old lady. Who could she possibly be? It’s me. This is much the same sensation as when I would catch a glimpse of an adult in a window and realize it was me. My insights no longer match my outsides. Inside, I am not a tiny grey haired lady in a chair. I am vibrant and not immobile. I still actively engaged with life. I keep on learning. I have also come to realize that I have a lot to share. The events and experiences of my life have value to others. In sharing and examining, I also gain additional insights into myself. This both pleases and scares me.
So, Route 66 will end in a few months but not for me. I still plan to be that woman travelling down two lane blacktop whether it’s virtual or in the real world. I will continue to make stops along the road that will both terrify me and help me continue to grow. I am going to get my kicks on Route 66.