Sunday, August 31, 2008

Changing Landscapes: Another Guest Post by Meredith

So Jessie and I started talking about posting again as soon as we finished the last one. Really, right after, as in, minutes. Because life moves fast on the open roads, ladies and gents: maybe it hasn't seemed that long in real-world, daily-routine, non-road-trip time, but suddenly we find ourselves 2,903 miles, 8 states, many incredible sunsets, and one Democratic National Convention away from our last update, and unsure where to begin sharing. Every passing hour has brought new scenery and countless adventures, making our thoughts so quickly outdated that the task of summing them up has come to seem more daunting and urgent with every passing state line or personal revelation.

Jessie on her 26th birthday on Tuesday:

And now, here we are, in Portland. Destination safely reached: Jessie has successfully delivered me to my new home and completed a significant journey of her own in the process. And while we are certainly still too close to our journey to see the full shape and size it will take in our current lives, we are just far enough to find a few common themes we need, a few little nuggets of wisdom that we can put in our pockets and keep as we return to our new realities.

And so, we bring you a post in three acts (invoke Ira Glass here): we've picked a theme, and we now bring you a variety of stories on that theme. This week's show: Changing Landscapes. A note to our listeners: the following post may not be appropriate for our younger readers, as it does acknowledge the existence of body-altering art, and temporary goodbyes between good friends.

Act One. Changing Landscapes: Does nature adhere to state lines?
Despite all of the pit stops, landmarks, and visits that will make up most of the headlines, the majority of the roughly 50 hours we were on the road was spent staring out the window at the most beautiful and quickly changing scenery we've ever scene. We watched our country go by, and payed attention to the places that such vast landscapes took our thoughts. And we never got tired of looking: it was truly amazing how quickly we could go from looking at a distant mountain range to suddenly driving through it, or how rapidly the flat, brown-dirt mesas of New Mexico turned into the rolling mountains of Colorado. And, luckily for you and me, we had Jessie along to capture some of this beauty for us:

Act Two. Changing Landscapes: A Hopeful Moment in American Politics
In Denver, history welcomed Jessie and me with open arms: we accidentally arrived just in time for the DNC. We ran into Abe Lincoln on a bike, saw some heated words exchanged between pro-life protesters and passers-by, and watched Obama's face go by on t-shirt after countless t-shirt. Also, Kenzie (our dear old friend and gracious Denver host) and I discovered the immediate authority bestowed upon anyone sitting behind an official-looking table, even if they aren't so official looking themselves: we volunteered 1o minutes of our day to table (uninvited) for the National Jewish Democratic Council, and direct interested parties towards their meeting. We can only hope we changed some lives in the process.

In keeping with our theme, however, the most meaningful moment of our DNC adventure came later, after our departure from Denver, amidst the changing landscape of an extended Wyoming sunset. Jessie adjusted our radio dial just in time to hear Barack Obama share his vision for our country as we watched the sun go down beyond the mountains. As Obama's "soaring rhetoric" combined with the soaring beauty of Wyoming's landscape, I think we both teared up a little. We felt like a moment in history had been carefully choreographed just for us.

Act Three. Changing Landscapes: 2 Ladies, 2 New Life Adventures
And now, as all of the analysts discussed at length about Obama's speech: how do we apply the soaring rhetoric of our journey to our own concrete plans? Jessie and I both find ourselves at exciting crossroads: she is, literally, building a new home for herself in Durham with a conscientiousness and vision that I find inspiring. And while my own new home doesn't need any structural attention, I'm planning to do some life building of my own here in Portland. Having each other to process these changes with, amidst the quickly changing backdrop outside our windows, has meant everything: the best thing a best friend can do is know you well enough to figure out what stays constant among the changes, and push you towards the changes that will make you more of the person they know and love. And what I find the most inspiring of all is the way that we've both initiated these changes in our lives: we're not just along for the ride, but changing the route as we go. We'll make sure to keep sending postcards along the way.

Picking tomatoes for dinner at Althea's house in Portland...

At a gift shop in Santa Fe...

Looking out at Park City, Utah, from our incredible hosts' hot tub...

A few images from Salt Lake City...

More photos from our trip can be seen here.

Okay, there's a special Act Four: Jessie, in celebration of all of the changing landscapes mentioned above, decided to alter her own physical landscape in the most bad-ass and inspiring of ways: if our take-home message can be summed up in images, here it is folks. One pre:

...and one post:


1 comment:

Rachel said...

I can't believe you did it! It looks beautiful.

And I really like Meredith's guests posts. Sounds like a great trip.