It is a crystal clear sky, deep, cloudless, calm. The sun dominates the scenery, the true star of the show. It’s that beautiful new spring day when the dreariness of winter has been blown aside by spring breezes and the peeking promise of summer.
I climb up into my jeep, lovingly named Daisy Jane, the same color as the radiant sun beaming down. She is stripped of her sides and top, open wide for adventure. I giggle. I pretty much giggle every time I climb into her, my bright yellow Jeep slathered in stickers about kindness and joy. Daisy Jane is my partner in crime. Driving her can make even a trip to the grocery store an adventure.
Today is a bit different. We have no errand to run, no appointment to make. We are just cutting loose on this beautiful day, no goal in mind. Just a spring breeze, a sunny sky, and a girl and her Jeep.
We drive. And drive. And drive. With no destination in mind and no timetable to keep, we soar up mountain roads, clip past newly-planted pastures, and wave to the local church’s yard sale attendees.
I’m not a “car girl”. I’ve never loved a vehicle before. But Daisy Jane is different. With the top down, gliding through the country roads, I feel like she is a kindred spirit. There is a sense of wildness, freedom and it feels like she’s a friend along for the ride. The open air, hair whipping in the wind, the sunshine kissing my skin, I feel more of a kinship with the Americana I cruise through. A little bit freer. A little bit wilder. A little bit younger.
I have no idea where I am. I have purposefully chosen twists and turns I’ve never traversed before. My intention is to become fully and completely lost.
I click on the playlist I’ve made just for today. Springsteen’s gravely, raw energy, matched by The Big Man’s soulful sax, permeates the countryside. Mellencamp is up next, crooning his odes to the American heartlands where I grew up and went to school. I’m transcended back, back back. The years peel away and I’m a 21 year old college kid, watching him pick up a guitar in a local pub. Then James Taylor. Then….then…then….
Song by song, memory by memory, turn by turn on the bucolic roads I slough off the layers of adult life. As the music blasts and the miles pass, more and more of daily life slips away, like dust in the wind.
With each unexplored curve and stretch I shed the sense of responsibility and recover the last wonder of youth. I sing the soundtrack of my youth loudly, off key, and with pure abandon. I am fully tapped into the sense of adventure, possibility and limitless optimism. I am transmuted to my 20 year old self, alive, curious, simultaneously whimsical and laser focused. Audacious and courageous as can be. Never saying “can’t”, laughing at what others consider obstacles. Joyfully accomplishing it all.
Sometimes, in the midst of every day realities, I miss that girl. Some days, in the glaring light of everyday life, she feels so very far away. I can find myself missing her innocence, tenacity, that cocky-sure knowledge she will change the world.
Daisy Jane slows as we pull to a 4 way stop. I turn down the music, and look around. I realize I know right where I am. After three hours of intentionally aimless driving, I have somehow landed right back in the middle of the familiar.
I breathe deeply, and turn on my blinker, heading home. It’s probably time to leave the wanderlust behind for now, to return to my family, my soul-filled work, my home.
But as Daisy Jane and I drive home, there is an extra passenger in the Jeep. That carefree, passionate, ceaselessly optimistic girl is coming home with me. She’s decided to stick around for awhile. She inspires me. She grounds me and reminds me of what is right and good and always possible.
She reminds me that sometimes you need to get lost to become found.