Make journeys, and take chances

Sometimes you go on journeys you never knew you’d be taking.

And sometimes those journeys involve more than 20 hours of driving across the country.

As I recently mentioned, I got a job in California, and I officially made the move out here over the weekend (and I’m on my first day of that new job today). I knew the trip was going to take a little less than 21 hours to complete, but I didn’t want to break up the drive evenly—it seemed a lot more daunting—so I decided driving a little more than 15 hours on the first day and then a little more than five on the second would be better (which is weird because I hate numbers in increments of five). I don’t think I’d ever been in a car for 15 hours at a time, but it seemed very doable.

Please take note: Spending 15+ hours in a car is A VERY LONG TIME, so please make sure that fully sinks in before you start the trip. However, it is indeed doable.

Thankfully, my sister made the trek with me. I honestly don’t know how I would have survived it without her without going completely insane. Sure, she slept some in the passenger seat (she was awake most of the time), but she also drove for a couple of hours to give me some rest, which was very helpful—after all, how else was I going to catch up on my Instagram feed?

You know, the important things.

The trip started EARLY Friday morning. I woke up at 3:51 to get in a very short run because I can’t roll straight out of bed and get behind the wheel for hours upon end. I need something to wake me up, and running is the best option for that. I picked my sister up right around 5 a.m., and we were officially on our way.

We were just really excited to be in Van Horn, Texas, home of space tourism company Blue Origin.

It took a fairly long time to get out of Texas (it’s frickin’ huge), and we only got pulled over once (THANK YOU, state trooper, for letting us drive away with only a warning). After we parted from Texas, even though we drove through lots of desert stretches, it was an incredibly scenic drive. Plus, we had some really solid playlists to keep us going—special thanks to Taylor Swift (obvi), Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Matt Wertz and all of those old school 90s pop artists on Spotify). I feel bad for all of the people who have to make long drives without my sister along for the ride—they’re missing out. (As a side note, she is not available to be a passenger upon request, so please do not inquire.)

We were pretty drained and hangry (hanger is so real) by the time we reached Phoenix, which was our stopping point for the first day. We ate dinner with a friend who lives there and then went straight back to the hotel and crashed. I mean, it did feel like it was two hours later than what it really was in the new time zone, so the rather early bedtime didn’t seem early at all.

It was somewhat of another early morning the next day that included a run through downtown Phoenix and a homeless man shouting across the street to me, “You don’t have to run, but I’m too old to chase you!” Thanks for the info, bud. We were on the road again by 6 a.m., and it felt really good when we finally reached our destination. My hips and pretty much the entire rest of my body were so sore, and I felt like I definitely wasn’t walking like a normal human—maybe more like a newborn calf. I’m not sure. I couldn’t see myself, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the calf thing, but I’ve heard and can imagine that it looks very awkward. Regardless, it was nice to be out of the car.

We didn’t mind the view.

After the cable and Internet were set up, and most of my stuff was unpacked, my sister and I went on a walk on a trail she found, and we sat and overlooked a gorgeous view of the bay. I could have sat there for much longer, but we had to walk to get a few things at the store and then head back to my new apartment to wait for the mattress guy to deliver my new bed. I only brought what would fit in my car, and that was mostly clothes, so I needed a place to sleep. There had been a slight snafu of the truck with my mattress on it breaking down, but thankfully, the manager who helped me over the phone a little more than a week ago drove to a different store where the truck was towed, picked up my mattress, and delivered it to me later that evening.

He came just in time—my sister and I were reaching points of hanger again.

After dinner, we made trips to Bed Bath & Beyond and Target to get some essentials and then headed home for the night. We were both pretty wiped. It definitely wasn’t difficult to fall asleep that night.

I’m not going to lie: It was tough dropping my sister off at the airport the next morning. I know that distance can never break my bond of sisterhood with her, but watching her walk through those glass doors was when it hit me that this is real—I’m officially out here on my own now. I know God called me out here for whatever reason, and I trust what He’s doing, but it’s also not easy to leave behind everything you’ve ever known and be so far away from people who mean the most to you.

I’m definitely excited for what’s ahead, and I know that the many prayers and miles and countless trips of carrying clothes to and from my car and the long goodbye hugs are worth it all. I guess sometimes you really do have to go through some tough times to get to where you need to be—whether those tough times include heartache, sadness, goodbyes, tears, fears, stress, or whatever it is you face along the way. Those hardships are worth enduring and help you become stronger than you ever knew you could be.

And that strength can help you realize that some chances—on love or people or jobs or personal fears you’re overcoming or moving to new places or trying things that might scare you or a number of other situations—are absolutely worth taking.

Some destinations are worth the journeys to get there

I’m not a huge traveler, and I think I’ve figured out why.

The journey to the destination feels like forever.

If I’m being perfectly honest, road trips aren’t really my thing. I guess every once in a while I enjoy them because there sure are a lot of memories you can make if you’re with other people, but I generally don’t jump at the opportunities for them. I’ve driven to Florida and New Mexico multiple times with my family over the years, and each time I was reminded that riding in a car for long periods of time isn’t the most enjoyable way to spend multiple hours of life. Actually, sitting for any extended amount of time is a challenge in itself.

But sometimes those road trips are needed.

A couple of years ago, my sister and I drove to Tennessee. We were both going through some difficult times, and I think we both needed a little getaway. It was a long drive, and we spent more time in the car than at our actual destination, but it’s a trip I’ll never forget for so many reasons.

West Texas rodeo time

Over the weekend, I needed another escape. I think we occasionally simply need to get away from our normal surroundings and routines to clear our minds and be refreshed. On Thanksgiving, I had talked to my cousin Rachel about traveling to visit her and her family in West Texas—when you’re going through the rough stuff, it’s best to be around the people who make you smile as much as possible.

But to get to some of those people, I had a journey to make.

I’m actually glad I went on the weekend I did, because I was able to escape the snow that happened in Dallas on Friday. I don’t like snow in general, but I really don’t like that people in this city act like the world is coming to an end if there’s any frozen precipitation, and traffic becomes an absolute nightmare. Dodged that bullet. I drove through some flurries on the way out west, but it wasn’t too bad.

What was bad was my fatigue.

I was so tired. I usually don’t get enough sleep on weeknights (it’s a horrible reality that I’m trying to work on), so I’m pretty spent on Fridays. During the first almost two hours of the drive, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it without falling asleep at the wheel—there were a few close calls already. But I made a quick pit stop at a high-quality Love’s station to use the restroom and stretch a little, and I was a bit revitalized after that. I put on some tunes for a car concert, so that helped, too.

I knew I was going to have to make one more stop to get gas and because I have a bladder the size of a jelly bean. But the second stop left me in a state of torture. I was on the phone with someone from the government (long story) for way longer than I thought it would take, but I was hoping to wrap things up by the time I finished filling up my car so that I could use the restroom again. (Small bladder and kidney stones magnifying that issue are a bad combination.) I was still waiting in the car for my tank to fill—it was SO cold—and still on the phone, and then I saw a sight I didn’t want to see: a school bus full of kids pull up. Why were they stopping here? It wasn’t a big station, so I’m assuming there was only one stall in the women’s restroom. When the gas was finished, I made a bad decision: I said, “Screw it—I’m leaving.”

And there basically wasn’t anywhere else to stop until I was practically to my cousin’s town.

Family = worth travel time

You know what, though? Somehow I survived, and the entire time in the car getting there was completely worth it. I had such a great weekend with Rachel and her sweet family, and I even took a pretty long nap on Saturday, which I definitely needed. (Rachel even made her two boys stay out of the room where I was so that they wouldn’t wake me. She’s incredible, and she gets it.) She and her husband were so welcoming to me all weekend long, and her two little boys are precious and hilarious—they kept me entertained the entire time.

As I was driving home on Sunday morning, I kept wishing I could snap my fingers like Sabrina the Teenage Witch and be home without having to endure the drive again. But that never happened. I guess that’s just life sometimes—you have to go on journeys that can often be frustrating and painful, but you have to persist through them in order for you to get to where you ultimately want or need to be. Sometimes they take you to new and exciting places, and sometimes they lead you right back home. Sometimes you have people with you, and sometimes you ride solo. Either way, you grow and change along the way and learn things that help you become the person you’re supposed to be.

We’re all going to face challenges in life. There are certainly no guarantees that everything is going to be easy. In fact, it seems like most of the things that are so great and wonderful either take a lot of effort or a lot of patience—or both. But when we last through those journeys, we might just realize that everything we went through was worth every second of the tough times.

And we might also realize that love is strong enough to make you forget about all of that, anyway.