We drove the hour and fifteen minutes to Pittsburgh from Betz’s house in the morning to drop him off before I headed back to Middletown.
He and his friends moved into my old house from the year before, so it was really strange dropping him off there. It was the first time I’d seen my old place since I left so long ago. A pang of sadness hit me when I realized it wasn’t my place anymore. Then I got over it.
After dropping him off I headed out on the final leg of the trip by my lonesome. It was the three hour drive from Pittsburgh to Middletown down the mundane PA Turnpike. Normally, I’d make some sort of quip about the turnpike being equal to one or more of the gates of hell, but today was different. The painfully boring trek through western and central Pennsylvania has never been more welcoming. It meant I was going home.
Although I went longer periods of time without going home while still in college, this stretch felt much longer than normal for obvious reasons. I gained so much life experience in the last two months that I couldn’t even begin to describe it to someone. When my friends asked, “How was LA?” I never knew how to answer. “Good” would normally suffice for them, but inside I knew that it was so much more than good. I wanted to describe every minute of everyday, every beach, every work week, every mile on the road trip there and back. I wanted to talk about the people and the scenery, the drivers, the weather, the ocean, the culture.
The friends that did get to hear everything probably wanted to kill me. I was the obnoxious person returning from a semester abroad – all I could do was think and talk about everything that happened.
The final road trip was great overall. Las Vegas was awesome and I will absolutely be visiting again. I saw a ton of the Southwest, which I most likely won’t intentionally visit again. The Deep South rocked, and I can’t wait to go back to NOLA. I only got a taste of that city and it was sweet. The regular South was alright too. Each place has it’s quirks. Each has its pros and cons.
What’s next? Between these two road trips and other places I’ve been in my life I’ve visited 32 states and Washington D.C. so far. The goal is obviously to make it to all 50. I basically need to visit all the states that touch Canada, including Alaska but not including New York or Vermont. A few stragglers in the Midwest (I’m looking at you Kansas), and of course, Hawaii.
The three hours went by faster than I ever thought. I got off the turnpike and drove the familiar six roads to my house. As I pulled into my neighborhood, a sigh of relief overwhelmed me – I was home and it felt great. I parked in my spot in front of the house, walked across the yard, and opened the front door.
“MOM?! I’M HUNGRY.”