Despite an incredibly long vacation from blogging, it has not been a vacation in the least from eating. Senior week festivities, graduation parties, dinner after dinner, and open bar after open bar spelled a foodie's celebration at its best. A week long adventure through Rome, Florence, and Assisi, this little lady was exploring culture the only way I see fit... through the stomach. Finally, home and settled after a whirlwind of highs and lows, happiness and anxiety. It has been a tumultuous few months, filled with lifestyle changes, rampant emotion, and consistent reflection. I always tended to be a thinker, but I never had all that much time with school to really ask myself the difficult questions like, what will I be and how the hell will I get there. Maybe it was for the better to be too occupied to ask these questions, because the problem with this line of personal interrogation is the fact that there are no clear cut answers. That's just life. I was always insulated from real life, thanks to the joys of a college education, summer vacations, and vigorous studying for exam after exam. Don't get me wrong, school is essential and a wonderful preparation for the real world, but it is also unrealistic when compared to the great beyond of the L word... life.
Those of you who know me, know that I am not the greatest driver. I haven't driven in four years, give me a break! Regina is the first to take over the wheel for fear of having to tolerate my driving. And mama loves to be behind the wheel so I usually defer to her no matter what the circumstance. On a rare occasion, I am in the car by myself and I have to be hyper vigilant or I will miss a turn... or five. Regardless though, the driving experience provides some continuity. For one, there is always music blaring. Additionally, more often than not, you are sharing the open road with someone you care about, whether family or friend. And last but not least, there is a Dunkin Donuts hazelnut iced coffee with some half and half in the cup holder. College developed in me a sever dependency on my coffee products. The funny part is I don't always drink the caffeinated variation; I just find comfort in the taste and what a cuppa joe represents. It is slightly sinful when you add some cool flavors or ten packets of sugar, but largely it is a safe choice next to soda and other frappa lappa doo dah complicated drinks. There is moderation in coffee, or at least there can be moderation if you train yourself, as I have had to. More than taste though, an iced coffee is fundamentally necessary to any long venture in the car. It is a mindless activity that can be sustained without detracting from concentration. It is a mobile meal, sometimes accompanied by greasy tater tots from Wendy's or those amazing deep friend french toast sticks. The only downfall is the part where the syrup ends up on your seat belt and sometimes yourself.
Long road trips with the radio playing your favorite recent hits, let us experience life as if it were a movie, just for a moment in time. Pretty in Pink or the Breakfast Club esque, the songs playing define your culture and generation. You sing along, whether or not you are in key. No one is there to judge you, or maybe it is the fact that the people in the car probably like you enough to tolerate your attempt at Barbara Streisand or Celine. Keep telling yourself that these soulful singers had their start in the back of a pickup truck, singing along to the Eagles of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Wind rushing beside you, sun shining through the roof, music, road, and iced coffee. Life of late has been a transition. I am not insinuating that it should be difficult in the least, but as any young recent graduate will tell you, its different. I have my health and an amazing support system so all in all, vita e' bella. But it is still a challenge to look forward without panicking. Your time is spent considering your happiness and future. The years of schooling have been endured, exams taken, and entry level jobs sought, and sometimes left. Sensory overload at its best. There is no control group in the experiment of young adulthood.
You just have to go forward and assess the journey at every juncture. I guess the important thing to remember is to be honest with yourself and look internally for the answers. Everyone's opinions are usually relevant in some way, as there is always a lesson to be learned even in the most unfortunate of circumstances. Even starting a job, to find out it made you miserable and scared the ever living bejesus out of you because it was so far from what you envisioned. But above all, the answers lie with you. Finding contentment in life has to originate from deep down. There is no manual for building a life we can be proud of, no algorithm, or even a wise sage that can tell you everything there is to know about finding fulfillment. Only God knows that, and he gave us the freedom to figure it out. So in short, taking an exploratory look at life and trying to really pinpoint what brings us joy whether we are 21 or 95, is a sound approach. And when you are dreadfully overwhelmed by the scary thoughts and anxious panic that sets in when you are trying to define yourself, your life, and your goals, grab the keys and an iced coffee, and hit the road. Let Rascal Flatts take you to the promise land of the open road, and after an hour or so, your world might start to make more sense.