RoadTrip America

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The Phoenix One Journals      Stories from the dawn of RoadTrip America

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The Inward Journey

If you've been following the Phoenix One's peregrinations via RoadTrip America, you will no doubt have noticed that our dateline has read "Pasadena, California" more often than not this summer. You may be wondering whether we're really on the road, whether our wanderlust has at last been sated, whether we've evolved from nomads into settlers.

The answer lies in how we define forward progress, in whether we believe it's possible to stop moving when we're all hurtling through space and time at speeds beyond our comprehension. We've come to know we can't. The most we can do is choose not to notice.

We used to pretend that all was not flux. In the same way a tiny child believes he's invisible if he covers his eyes, we thought we could choose to stand still while the world swirled around us. We let ourselves imagine that the fixtures of our lives were permanent.

Then one day, the world we'd deemed immutable vanished in a puff of smoke. When the darkness lifted, we found we could no longer ascribe invincibility to such fragile possessions as house and hearth, car and job. Nothing in three dimensions lasts forever, and with freshly opened eyes, we resolved to seize each day.

We haven't stopped loving that outward world, that ephemeral marvel that shifts and changes in splendid pageantry everywhere we look. Our lust to see it all knows no bounds. It's an impossible dream, of course, because if we're in Pasadena today, we can't be soaking up San Francisco. Why not tomorrow, you say? Well, okay, but it won't be the same, and neither will we. We can't stop moving, it can't stop changing, and it's a wonder of physics that we ever coincide in time and space at all.

So, yes, we're still on the move, just like everyone else in creation. We still call the Phoenix One home, and we still own no furniture, no dishwasher, no closet full of clothes. Our journey over the last few months, however, has been an inward one, a trip of retrospection as we sculpt the journals and memories of our years on the road into a book.

A metaphorical odyssey it may be, but authorship has nonetheless taken us down new roads. We've written plenty, but never a book. Five years ago, we'd wandered plenty, but we'd never committed ourselves to a life on a roll. Writing a book is taking us down highways we'd never traveled, byways we never knew existed.

While we're shifting gears and avoiding oncoming trucks in front of a computer screen, while the tread wears off our fingers, it's true that the Phoenix One's tires are getting a break from the asphalt. We could easily say we'd rather be in San Francisco or Kalamazoo or Times Square. We'd love to do it all, right this second. But time built a highway, not a bumper-car rink. We have to go first here, next there, and only then somewhere else.

Our dateline reads "Pasadena, California," again this week, but it doesn't mean the adventure's over. It just means we've temporarily disappeared around a new bend.

Mark, Megan, & Marvin

Pasadena, California
August 9, 1998

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