This is another essay I wrote in college, but this one is addressed to my mother who is directly responsible for my meanderings. I'll be making my way across New Mexico and the Mojave for the next few days, so settle back and enjoy :)
You gave me a name I had to grow into. To hear you tell it, the genesis for my name came from the Addison & Clarke El stop where you used to get off to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field. You didn’t live in Chicago for long, nor did you live in Arkansas for long before that. You were born in Morelton, the fourth daughter to a Presbyterian minister who moved you and your sisters out of the South before a southern accent could lay claim to the way you move your tongue. By the time you were seven, your father had moved you again, west this time, to Colorado Springs. Your parents, two native Arkansans, were seduced by the siren song of the mountains during a youth group trip and decided to stay. It was 1970, and they bought the land before there was a house on it. So they built a house. They moved in before they knew there was a church in need of a minister. They call that faith.
You inherited your sense of wanderlust from your father and he got his from his mother. You used to spend your summers with your family crammed into an orange Volkswagen Micro Bus named Brutus. Brutus took you through every one of the lower forty-eight states and to each of their capitols. Brutus even took you and your sisters to Juneau, though it never made it to Honolulu.
I’ve been to all but seven states.* I know you think some of them don’t count. I haven’t been to all the capitols, and in a few, I’ve only been to an airport, but I count them anyway. I’ve laid eyes on most of America, at least. I drove through many of those states with you. Most of the long trips were with the whole family, but sometimes it was just you and me. Mile after mile, we listened to music, talked, ate Flaming Hot Cheetos and watched our country slip by on long black ribbons of asphalt.
You used to tell stories about the trips you took when you were young. Sometimes I forget which stories are yours and which ones are my own inventions. Though the stories themselves haven’t changed in words, as I grow older, age and experience shed light on the reality of your experiences and what they really meant. This is the way it is with children, I suppose. Parents tell them tales, and the child can’t help but make the parent a fearless hero. Adventures are so much grander when the imagination is responsible for filling the gaps in understanding. But with your stories, it’s hard to choose between what’s true and what is true enough.
So I search for truth in a series of memories: I return to the road where introspect is inescapable, where silences span miles, where arguments cross state lines, and where experience slides by to a soundtrack of shifting landscapes.
*As of June 14, 2022, I have been to all 50 States. A lot has changed since I wrote this. A lot hasn't.