After the airport dance and a far too brief overnight stay with a pair of my alternate parents (thanks, Audrey & Paul), my traveling companion Caty and I hit the road at 7am with the intention of covering Florida and Georgia before stopping in Charleston, SC. I say intention because we didn't even make it out of the driveway before needing to jumpstart the car and charge the battery a bit. We ignored the potential bad omen. Eventually we got our act together, hopped in the car full of Caty's classroom supplies and my miscellaneous collection of things that seemed important to take on an art road trip, and found the highway.
Our first day on the road was a disguised exercise in mindfulness. All of my pre-trip fears about the worst part of long-distance car travel being sitting and confinement were somewhat validated but also the experience wasn't quite as torturous as I'd anticipated. Nine hours of Florida and Georgia highway was a considerable amount of sitting and monotony. We didn’t stop for the first few hours which consisted of mile after mile of the thin grey line that is the Floridian highway system. I know many parts of my reflection on the trip will appear to be generalization, and I do have memories from some beautiful beaches in Florida and family theme park extravaganzas, trips that made me realize not all of America is arctic in winter months, but Florida highways are incredibly uninspiring. I spent the first hour of the drive trying to hold on to some of the novelty of the landscape; imagine roads that are simply straight, no curves or changes in elevation for as long as you can drive with a border of trees on either side obstructing the possibility of a view. It was amusing, as lack of curve and elevation might be to a New Englander, but amusement quickly turned into a sense of doom when the horizon just didn’t change. I had a notebook at the ready to record my findings but I simply ended up repetitively affirming my intrigue in palm trees, the superior cloud formations in the sky, the fact that trash is made into mountains, and a recurring billboard for divorcemenonly.com. Also the prevalence of truck drivers and the general impatience of our neighboring vehicles.
I completed my first dance at a rest stop because it was simultaneously something new, respite, but it was also set directly off the same rigid path we were fated to endlessly follow. Like ourselves, everyone at the utilitarian rest stop looked tired, bored and sticky. I took interest in a random grove of five palm trees, definitely not natural to the ground they were rooted in, growing upwards with the same straightness as the road, and made a movement sketch to match. No one really seemed to watch or care and at that stage that was ok with me. We ventured on, past many more of the aforementioned divorcemenonly.com billboards, enduring a continuation of the grade school lesson in perspective as the straight highway shrunk into the distance. There were tall buildings in Jacksonville, an exciting shift in environment that quickly flattened back out to our day’s norm. There wasn’t much change at the Georgia border, besides the proud declaration of PEACHES! and PECANS! every time we would hit the mile marker, the introduction of something called Huddle House, and an influx of churches. There wasn’t enough time to do justice to Georgia, besides some in-car miniature movement sketches likely observed by no one. Sorry, Georgia. The South Carolina border was an exciting milestone, but also one where our surroundings felt decidedly southern. A long day.
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