I made it!

I’m a big “date” person. I usually am really good at remembering dates for certain events. It’s more than just birthdays. The last girlfriend I had, we started dating on 12/13 (Option C, right?). I started the job I just quit on 10/01 (which also happens to be my mom’s birthday, so that’s an easy one). My brother graduated 08/07. I met a friend who turned my world upside down a day later on 08/08. 10/09 will forever leave a bad taste in my memory… and not just because South Carolina beat #1 Alabama on national television 😉

I can’t really explain it. Certain things just stick. I like numbers, so I guess I associate events with the dates and the rest is history (no pun intended).

Add December 7th to that list.

I made it! 13 weeks – three months to the day – on the road.

A quarter of a year. On my own. With nothing but my truck, a backseat full of clothes, and whatever crazy ideas and plans I concocted in my head.

Three months was my original goal. I didn’t have a plan, but I always ballparked being gone anywhere from three to six months. I estimated my budget based on three months – try to stay under $10,000 total, which I roughly equated to $3,000 a month or $100 a day. I don’t have final numbers (since I’m still on the road, obviously), but I think I’m going to make that.

In three months, I’ve seen every contiguous state this country has to offer. I’ve seen the Florida Keys, more college campuses and football stadiums than you can imagine, Death Valley, a zoo in almost every region of the country, Yellowstone, family members, the Space Needle, the sunrise before anyone else in the country, enough of Washington DC to last me a lifetime, but not enough to keep me away forever… The list goes on. And on. And on.

Since I’ve been gone, a lot has happened. I knew nothing about Chilean miners until I showed up in Iowa (the first time) and they were rescued. I normally follow politics pretty closely, but election day came and went without much hoopla on my trip (I did vote absentee though). My brother got engaged (How crazy is that?). Congratulations to Stephen and Tara! I had two amazing friends I used to talk to on a daily basis when I left. Now that I’m near the end of my trip, I haven’t talked to either in weeks. My mindset and attitude has changed. Maybe theirs has too. Things are just different now. It’s good to grow and challenge yourself, but it sucks too. I miss talking to them. But I’ve also become closer with several friends who I had lost touch with prior to my trip. They can’t replace the two I lost, but not all is bad!

Hopefully, in those three months, I’ve pushed some people to try some new things. I know my parents are definitely in that category. That’s beyond amazing to me. I make my mom want to see things I’ve seen. My dad actually came out to travel with me for about a week. And if he keeps his word, once he retires, he’ll be out doing what I’ve done! I expect the favor to be returned and a ride when I need a vacation from whatever job I’m holding, wherever I wind up! 😉 A coworker who I rarely talked to from my old job is one of the more active commenters. A reader sent to me from my mom’s continuous efforts to get people to my blog let me know just a few days ago that her son had all but done the same thing. An ex-girlfriend’s mom probably keeps closer tabs on my journal than the ex-girlfriend, not to mention I’ve given her some DC options to try out on her next visit. It’s just amazing and cool to see the people who have followed me. And more importantly, the connections they’ve made with what I’ve done and the reasons they have for following me.

It’s also been three months by myself. Between the week I spent with my dad, the week I spent in Iowa, and random days here and there with family (Baltimore, Tifton, Auburn, Oklahoma City, etc, etc), I would make a guess that I have spent 10 of the 13 weeks on my own. It’s been amazing to experience the things I have, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to do alone sometimes. My first night on the road was rough. I was such a different person then and I spent most of the night texting one of the friends I don’t talk to anymore. Just to have some sort of contact and feedback. Florida was hard. The weather didn’t help. And I’m never going back if I can help it. I blew a tire in downtown Houston in rush hour traffic. I handled it just fine, but after I got back in my truck, the pressure and stress of the situation just crashed down on me. In Pennsylvania, I was one night away from pointing my truck South and heading home because I was just at a point where I needed some kind of comfort zone to be in. Luckily, a good night’s sleep and waking up on the right side of the bed was all I needed to point my truck to Cleveland, Ohio and head west instead. But I’ve learned some amazing things because I’m on my own too. I know I no longer want to stay in SC, at least for the time being. I know I can handle a big city on my own (Thanks Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington DC). I know I can make it, on my own, with no one’s help for anything. For three months anyways, which ultimately means the rest of my life, if need be. It’s like a trial run… a test drive… for what’s to come.

And I couldn’t be more excited.

I know I’ve said it a million times before, but thanks to everyone, known and unknown, who has read this blog and followed along throughout my last three months. It means a lot to know I have people interested in something I’m doing that started out as a daydream to get out of a small town and job I didn’t enjoy anymore. And it’s fulfilling to know that I’ve been able to inspire, push, or just simply entertain you enough to keep coming back.

And a special thanks to both my mom and dad for being interested in my trip and there for me when I needed someone to talk to. But also for not being overbearing because your son had a crazy idea to go see the country by himself (I haven’t been raped yet, Momma!). And for the fact that I’d have 75% less comments on my blog without the two of you. Let me know if you ever need a tour guide! I’ll give you a family discount 😉

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12 Responses to I made it!

  1. L Jacobs says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a journey and life experience you’ve been on . . . it’s been wonderful riding along with you from my desk. Can’t wait for the book!!!

  2. Shyanne says:

    A GIANT CONGRATS!!! I don’t know if I said but I didn’t start reading you until November. I usually stay current on your mom’s blog but my daughter got married Oct. 31st and I had been too busy. But when I saw that Hope’s son was doing something a lot like my son was doing I HAD to read along. What is it about Texas? My son also had a tire blow out there!

    What I want to tell you is that I can tell you have changed since you started out in Florida. It’s amazing how someone who really doesn’t know you can tell by the way you write. You sounded unsure about yourself in the beginning and it seemed like things weren’t going well (the very hot Florida weather). But as you progressed, I could tell you were adapting and growing. It seemed as though something that would have bothered you in Florida just rolled off your back in Yellowstone. When you commented on something that bothered you early in your trip, I was hoping that you would not give up. I could tell three or four weeks later, you were able to handle disappointments better.

    This whole trip is just amazing. Like I said, my son is still on his “journey” and I would love him to write about it. I know I am looking forward to reading your book. I hope you continue to keep us informed and we get to find out where you end up living and working, etc. You are gaining a reading audience right now, and as a writer, myself I need to take a tip from you and do the same thing. Not by traveling but perhaps some other way. I recently started an MFA program online and I’ve thought about chronicling my “trip” through school.

    Well, again congratulations and I know your parents are proud of you. Keep up the good work and know one of your readers is out here following along.


    • Wow, that’s crazy about your son and the Texas thing. My brother drove from Arizona to South Carolina once and had the same thing happen to him in Texas.

      I’d say at least keep a journal through school. I’ve got a handwritten journal I kept and that might end up meaning more to me than the blog online. But I’m also planning on keeping both of them going!

      It’s interesting to see what someone who doesn’t personally know me thinks about how my trip has changed me. Thanks for the kind words!

  3. Yep – you’ve become the person we’ve seen all along, sweetie. You just didn’t want to venture out before. You hit a breaking point of sorts, and that made you take the trip. Your whole life, it took a wall to make you change directions. Now that you’ve traveled on your own, without walls, with freedom to change your mind and make decisions without the world telling you to, you can continue thinking for yourself. Quit waiting until you HAVE to make a decision…and make it when you want to.

  4. Rena Jarvis says:

    Well I’m looking forward to your book. Can’t wait to read it. If I knew what I was going to go through now at work when you left, I would have made you take me with you. 🙂

  5. RMJinAK says:

    Matthew: What a great summation of the things you have encountered and how you have changed in the process. In reading your entries, I sense your are a lot more accepting of things outside your comfort zone – doesn’t mean you have to like them, but that you can deal with them better now. I think that you stayed within your comfort zone before because it wasn’t risky. I am reminded of a saying I saw on a poster once – A sailboat is safe in the harbor, but that is not what a sailboat was made for; it was made to sail! So you have been out sailing for three months now, and I believe will continue to sail into the great big future that you have. And you can ride along on any trips that I take, any time you want. Love you bunches!

    • Definitely true of the comfort zone statement. A year ago, I never would have been comfortable just throwing myself into the middle of a place as big as DC on my own. And now, I’m looking forward to giving a city a chance to live in.

  6. RMJinAK says:

    I see that you have made it back home. I still want to see your entry for your last couple of experiences. I’ll check in with you this weekend to catch up with you. Oh, by the way, DEC 7 is already a date noted for something – “a day that will live in infamy!” So your event will have to have an asterisk by it. 🙂 I glad you arrived safely.

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