I’ve been spending a lot of time on the road. And it’s not something I’m complaining about. I feel like I’m at my best when I’m traveling around and channeling my inner nomad. I love to see new things and experience new places.
In the words of my father, Paul Lauck, “Work is work. You can quote me on that.” I appreciate the permission.
It may be a simple statement, but it’s true. I spent 10 days working non-stop, driving to random towns in Colorado and Utah. I now know I need a stoplight to eat a banana, and a 6 mile stretch of road to eat an apple while driving. But I quickly realized that I spend so much time working that I don’t get to experience the things that I would normally do if I were to travel these places for fun.
Don’t get me wrong. I see some beautiful scenery on the drives. I travel to towns that are smaller which I normally would never get the chance to explore. I meet people that are interesting that I wouldn’t have had the chance to cross paths with if I were doing a more touristy trip.
But one of my favorite things about traveling is that I find I always learn something new, whether about myself or others.
In Prague, I learned that I was stronger and more independent than I realized and was more than capable of traveling alone.
In Sydney, I learned how to hustle and pull myself up by my bootstraps when the going got tough.
In Venice, I learned I can lose a toenail and have a foot that looks like it belongs in a crime scene photograph but still prioritize that there is a beautiful Italian man in front of me so I should keep my shit together, stay calm, and put on my best awkward smile.
These trips for work are a different beast altogether, but the same rules seem to apply.
In Colorado, I learned that my breaking point was 7 hours of standstill traffic stuck in a tunnel in the middle of a mountain while sitting in a compact car that I was not convinced was going to make it through the rest of my trip.
I started yelling at people from my car who were clearly just losing it in the tunnel as much as I was by being pushy drivers. I knew this must be as close as I’ve gotten to having a panic attack mixed with pure rage.
I also learned that the most random, middle of nowhere gas stations can instill the best words of wisdom.
I had to go inside to get a receipt for my gas and an energy drink to make it through my treacherous mountain drive. An older man was sitting behind the counter when I walked up and put my drink on the counter. I said, “Sorry to be a pain, but I have a weird question to ask you.”
He took one look at me and said, “Honey, I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now, and I’m going to tell you one thing. I’ve heard plenty of weird questions, and I guarantee whatever you are going to ask me is not as weird as you think it is. You aren’t the type that asks really weird things.”
I took a minute to let that sink in, and nodded at him, “That seems fair. I just need a receipt.”
He printed one off, told me to have a lovely day, and said, “Cheers” clinking his coffee cup to my energy drink.
In Utah, I learned that as much as I want an Ostrich burger, I can’t ever remember that a lot of restaurants are closed on Sundays.
I also learned that being a Utah 9 doesn’t always help me win the hearts of the masses.
I had a long day and I was heading into the store to get a bottle of wine, as I assume this must be a common coping mechanism for all humans the world over.
I was having a hard time finding anything, so I asked the man stocking the beer if he could direct me to the wine aisle.
He glared at me and said, “We don’t sell wine here. That has alcohol in it!”
I was so taken aback by the fact that he had beer in his hands telling me this, that I just stood there, mute, blinking at him, trying to process what alternate universe I was in.
I shook it off, thanked him, and grabbed some Mike’s Hard Lemonade like I was 16 years old, and walked out the door.
When I showed up to my hotel, 8 kids came running out of the elevator with their mom following behind them. She looked me up and down and glared at my Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
I wanted to tell her that I was offended by her kids running around rampant, or that I was just told that this isn’t actually booze that I bought so she doesn’t need to be worried. I also wanted to tell her that I wished it was vodka and not Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Instead, I glared back, grabbed two bottles, and walked outside, double fisting my “non-booze.”
Life on the road can be tricky, but I adapt to my surroundings, and I wouldn’t have the craziness any other way. But it has been nice to come back to my apartment that I’ve spent so much time turning into my “home” and actually enjoying it for a change before I head out and start all over again.