Always, there can be something said of the open road. The contact of dirt to skin, of night fall captured with eyes and ears instead of through a window, through walls. The great American road trip is one of the west – of exploration and of necessity. I often find my trips to have some tune, a theme of what I want to see and do and be and experience. But this time, when Subaru sent me west with two faces I’d yet met, I didn’t have an expectation or a theme, or a clue as to what these miles would feel like.
Denver to Salida – 142 miles | 2.5hrs
Salida to Santa Fe – 221 miles | 4hrs
Santa Fe to Truth or Consequences – 212 miles | 3hrs
Truth or Consequences to Marfa – 313 miles | 5hrs
Marfa to Austin – 429 miles | 6.5hrs
The goal was simple – photograph on film what I experienced on the road. Subaru offered a dream job for someone who’s medium is pretty much obsolete. They encouraged me to use this opportunity to explore my creativity with film and my relationship to it. I destroyed a few rolls before I flew from Florida to Denver, completely unaware of what the magic that would come, both in my work and through the women I met.
Nic, Sarah and I bonded over a breakfast of runny eggs and toast and donut holes. I threw up on a pull off on 285. “This is bullshit,” I remember saying while a migraine seized my entire face/body/eyesight and when they laughed, I felt at home.
For four days we drove sometimes in silence, sometimes with everything to say. When we made it to Marfa for the event hosted by Subaru and She Explores, I felt like I’d always know these two women. In Marfa I met nine additional ladies, each brilliantly talented and passionate with great offerings. Some I’d admired from afar for a very long time (talking about you Jules) and some I had only just met but felt kindship to instantly.
The magic of the desert is palpable and here Gale of She Explores created a solid space for us to feel comfortable to share our ‘dreams,’ what that term even means, and if we’re allowed to change them.
A little background on Hello America this past year: Matt recently and for the first time publicly, shared the heartbreak of the last 12 months and our ultimate decision to move back to Florida. After losing is father to cancer in July, we decided to move from San Diego to Destin, where we grew up. Matt has now started a fishing charter with his brother, something his father always wanted to do with his boys. I have to note that Kevin, Matt’s dad, was my favorite and I must speak to the genuine character of this gentle and bright man. He was so good and he taught Matt how to be good and I miss him every day.
Leaving California wasn’t a difficult decision. It was ours and it was right but I know me, and I worried that a year from now I would be itching for California. I feared the longing to move that would creep in and the loathed the guilt I’d know I’d feel for wanting that want. I became a storm. These thoughts consumed everything I touched. I destroyed and left a trail of debris in my reckless path. This was my reality in the months leading up to Marfa and since I was here now, in the middle of the desert with strangers and still internally bleeding with this madness and because I didn’t know what the hell else to do, I started talking.
As I poured into different women over the next few days, they helped me realize I kinda like, maybe even love living in my hometown. I talked about the healing properties of water, and my family and the sand and the oak trees and moss. Greta Gerwin’s break out film Lady Bird really captured this spirit. When the 17-year-old protagonist is reviewing her college essay with her Catholic school teacher, the nun confirms, “it’s clear how much you really love your hometown” and as was Lady Bird winces, and explains that she was just paying attention to the place, the nun suggests that maybe they’re the same thing.
The opportunity to go to the desert, with ultra-talented women, and to talk about the ever-elusive shape shifter of ‘dreams’ is a total luxury that most simply aren’t afforded. I’m thankful and humbled for the opportunity to learn and listen and stick my face close to the Earth, counting time of her heart beat and mine and to shoot the grain and grit of travel while taking home a new piece of myself. 1,000 times thank you to Subaru and Gale and all the women I met in Texas.