A few years ago I was completely addicted to the idea of hitch-hiking. Free travel. I wanted to indulge in my truest conception of freedom. I wanted to do it with someone else who had experience and power. I had neither at the time and still question myself if I have any real experience or power to this day.
I did find someone. Well, they found me. I wasn’t actively looking to travel anymore. The idea of getting a degree in anything was my goal. I had no direction and had navigated through two pretty bad break ups over the previous years. Education was my escape from my internal abuse and longings. It was something I could look forward too.
We met during my 2nd year at a local community college in Rochester, NY. I had prepared my first two weeks of homework during the summer months so that if I fell behind, I was already ahead. I was studying in the hallway of my Modern Art History class. Head down in my art bible and writing in my notepad. She comes over and makes a comment about a tattoo I have on my wrist. A band called The Misfits.
I looked up and saw a bright eyed, long brown haired, beautiful Italian woman looking back at me. I immediately thought, “Whoa” and “This girl probably knows two Misfits songs. Like everyone else.” She sat down and talked with me before the doors opened for class. It was a quick conversation about music and about our last lecture. When the doors opened she asked me if I wouldn’t mind her sitting next to me. I obliged and happily so.
I was completely in love with her the second week we talked. I remember the moment I looked over and had realized this. She was driving a stick shift 2001 Ford Ranger wearing an old torn up Vincent Van Gogh shirt and talking about a great vegan restaurant I should check out. I saw her profile and thought ‘I want to marry this woman.’
It was the first time we spent time off of school property and we were on an adventure to see a replica of Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’. Mary Magdalene holding her recently deceased son in cemetery at the edge of the city. We had just learned of it’s existence in our class together and couldn’t not see it!
Quickly I realized how wrong I was about my initial reaction to her music taste. After 3 weeks of knowing her she had surprised me with tickets to go see The Misfits. Who the hell was this woman? How does she know me so well already? What an insanely perfect gift from someone that I just met.
I egged her on to go travelling. She had already hitch-hiked for 3 years previous to meeting me. My itch to travel grew stronger and stronger as my love did for her. We were very different people and we certainly argued through some of those differences at times. I was victim to order and planning and she was freed by happenstance, good timing, an impeccable smile, and the most brilliant mind I have ever met. We had our qualms but we loved each other.
Presence has never been one of my redeeming qualities. As in being present in a moment. Always adrift in some thought not really paying attention to what is happening around me. This seeped into our relationship very early on as she committed herself %100 to me instantly. I always had other ideas, dreams, and intentions skewing my passion with her. I was 21 and my feet were itching to run really far away because I felt I would find myself in the midst of the road.
She graduated college the following spring. We were living together at my one of my best friends apartments all winter.I brought up my dreams of travelling very frequently to her. Practically begging.
After months of antagonizing and pushing, she had agreed to teach me how to hitch-hike and to get to California. She made my dream attainable through her endless support. She only asked that I marry her. Even then I don’t think I was really sure of the implications of marriage and if I really accepted it as something that I would experience. Especially after watching my parents, cumulatively, go through 4 failed marriages. I wanted to feel California and I was selfishly in love with a person and an idea. I thought it would work itself out and we would get married in California. I never expected to miss New York and what I had there.
To be continued….
(Image Credit) David Choe