June 1987. I've just graduated from Michigan Tech University, and I'm scheduled to be at USC in Los Angeles for grad school in September. Tom (not yet Husband) decides to come along. "I've always wanted to go to LA," he says casually. I don't think either of us gave the arrangement much thought beyond that. My parents are somewhat glad I'm not going alone. His parents are reluctant (read: highly distraught with his impetuous decision) but let us take the car they've given Tom. Neither of us has ever been west of the Mississippi.
Concerned about my finances, my mother arranges an interview for an LA-based job at the copper and brass manufacturing company for which she works. The job: inside sales at a distribution warehouse--a position for which I have no experience. As a Communications major with job experience as a lifeguard, working at the dorm desk, and writing news releases for the university news bureau--selling copper fittings and tubing to plumbers was a stretch. But I somehow talk them into hiring me, so we need to leave for LA earlier than we had planned.
We pack up all our worldly possessions--clothes, blankets, one of the original Macintosh computers (maybe even a Mac II?) and its diskettes, and head out across the country. Across the country. An adventure I'd never envisioned myself on. I don't really know what grand plan I had in mind for myself, but I'm pretty sure it didn't involve being in Los Angeles. In pictures of the trip, we looked like a couple of carefree kids, to be sure. Tom has a gift for driving long distances without getting tired, and I doze off every couple of hours. I didn't drive much.
I do remember going zen when we drove through Kansas. Those forever fields of warm, yellow wheat, with long trains or tall silos the only breaks in the scene, hypnotized me. We watched a huge thunderheads develop and let loose in the distance. In Topeka, we stopped for lunch, where we were offered "Kerrs and Kerrs Lite" as beverage choices. Tom ordered a "Kerrs."
We pass through St. Louis. Into Colorado, we see snow on the caps, and we delight in driving through tunnels. In Golden, we stop at Buffalo Bill's grave site--for no reason, I imagine, other than we were there, and it was there. My guess is that I had to convince Tom to stop, for he's not generally a sucker for tourist stops, and I am. In our pictures, he wears a white trucker's cap that reads "America Rocks."
Across Utah, we were both captivated by the canyons and colors of the landscape, that in places, looked more like a moonscape. We take a break in Zion, the only national park stop on this trip, and hiked through sandstone cliffs with warm, western colors that danced and changed with the light. Such a contrast to the forested landscapes of Michigan, where we both grew up.
We are only a day or two away from Los Angeles, where everything contrasts to all the previous days of our lives growing up in Michigan. Those pages to come...