AlonePosted on September 11th, 2007 after 4116 miles by Dean Croshere.
Before I left, I feared that I would eventually find myself cold, lost, and alone, in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where I was going, or what I was doing.
Last night, I saw that happening.
I have all of the Gamma Alumni plotted on a map. I only have to click on a name to get an address and, with a little more work, a phone number. If you were to be stranded in the states, you need only to open up the map to find yourself surrounded by alumni, friends -brothers- who would help out a brother with little knowledge other than a couple of greek letters and the ideals of the brotherhood.
Anywhere in the states, save for South Dakota.
After struggling and failing to find nearby alumni, I decided to drink a Red Bull and get some food, then drive as far as I could.
Perhaps a decision would come to me.
I stopped to eat. As soon as I got out of the car, I started to relax, to lose that tenseness that allows me to drive tired. Then, 10 minutes later, I realized that I was eating McDonalds. Disgusted, I decided I was done. The tension that allowed me to drive was gone. I needed to sleep, now. I began to tense up again, my heart rate picked up, a combination of the Red Bull and the realization that I had no plan.
I stopped at a place that promised it was so cheap, imaginary friends could sleep free.
They say smells are one of the more powerful emotional triggers. My emotions were ready to be triggered. The previous inhabitants of the room clearly had ignored the no smoking sign on the door. That wasn’t the worst smell though. I don’t want to describe the worst smell. I want to pretend it wasn’t there, because then I don’t have to figure out what it was. Actually, that’s right, the smoking was the worst smell.
There I was. Lying on the predictably uncomfortable motel bed, exhausted, heart rate through the roof, facing what I had already established to be my greatest fear for the trip.
I did pass out, though not for long. I woke up again in the middle of the night with my heart still racing. I have a fraternity brother that will not speak to me, an issue about a girl. I’d had some dream that I was talking to him. In the dream, our conversation went well enough, though suitably awkward (I have no idea what it was about).
During the whole conversation there was this dragonfly buzzing off to my left, near my ear. I ignored it, the conversation was more important. The buzzing grew louder and louder. It was more and more irritating until I finally decided to do something about the damned thing. Without warning, only after I acknowledged it, it attached itself to my neck with all of its 8 legs and a sucker and a stinger and all kinds of other things dragonflies don’t have.
I woke up. I felt like I had only been asleep for minutes. My heart was beating as it had been when I passed out. I wasn’t going to sleep again any time soon.
I was, simply put, afraid.
All of my greatest fears, being alone mostly, hit me. It was now 3 am central, 1 am home.
I tried to sleep, to put my fears behind me.
It wasn’t going to happen.
I reached for my phone and text messaged a friend. I asked her to tell me I wasn’t alone.
Once she had, I felt silly. Of course I’m not alone.
I mentally went over the multitude of people I could have called who would have talked to me in the middle of the night as long as I needed, to chase away any fears of abandonment. As we continued our mid-night conversation, my heart slowed and I relaxed. I found an episode of X-files on TNT and the world seemed familiar.
I’m not alone in the middle of the night in central South Dakota. Not at all.
I’ve been more alone after work at home in the Grove. Even last night, I didn’t research the Alumni, a brother did. I called on short notice and he didn’t hesitate to do all of my research for me, to find numbers and send me to person after person, as I asked, as I needed.
I have a greater ability to communicate with people now than I know what to do with.
Now that the sun is up, my fears are gone. It is amazing how the light can chase away all of our fears, even those that have nothing to do with darkness.
I’m going to slow down. Apparently there is a gravestone of someone named Tollef Tollefson nearby. I’m going to go find it.
Maybe I’ll spend another night in South Dakota.
I’m behind on updates. I had a wonderful time in Greeley, and lots of comments to make of it, not to mention the first 11 hours of the drive yesterday. There are a few great pictures (including Mount Rushmore, and the experiences there).
I just needed to get this up, to explain my mood from last night.
One of the greatest disadvantages of being the only one in the car is the inability to do anything besides drive. At least, I shouldn’t do anything but drive. I can’t post and drive, and writing carefully takes time. Time spent not going anywhere.
The past few stops have been a long distance apart and I’ve spent far too much time driving as quickly as possible on split interstates. Split interstates are boring. They don’t follow the land. On interstates, you can’t pull off to explore random roads that look interesting; you have to take exits. I find myself calculating the exact minute I’ll get to my destination. Once I count down the minutes until I’m somewhere else, the journey is no longer the destination.
When that isn't the case. When the journey is the destination, and it has been for the vast majority of the trip, I am at peace. A full, overwhelming peace. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Wherever I’m going, I’m there.
So I’m going to go find Tollef Tollefson. The great great great grandfather of a friend.
I’m here, I’m there, I’m not alone.
P.S. I know you’re reading this. Thank you. Thank you to any of you who would have gladly done anything possible to help me in need.