You may recall that in my top ten list of things to do before prison, I recommended that felons, if they have the opportunity, take a road trip. There's something appealing (at least to me) about that most vivid symbol of freedom - hitting the open road - before losing that very freedom.
Lest you think I don't practice what I preach, I am leaving today to do just that. I'm packing my things and saying goodbye to my friends and my apartment. (For those of you who may be wondering, I found a wonderful home for my dog, Sorbet). In an hour or two I'll hit the open road.
I can imagine the pictures dancing through your head of me tooling across the country on a motorcycle or classic car, the wind in my hair and a smile on my face.
In this instance, fantasy definitely surpasses reality.
My dream ride.
My ride of choice is not an old Mustang or rumbling Harley, but a white Budget rental truck from that vintage year of 2011. But despite some peeling paint and scratches along its sides, the heater works and the motor manages to lug my car along behind it at 70 mph, at least on the straightaways. That's faster than my car manages to go, by the way. We'll see if it makes it over the Rockies.
My real ride.
I picture a road trip as a jaunt across the country, unconstrained by time or destination as you amble the byways far from the interstates and cities. Here again my road trip doesn't live up to the myth. My destination is very hard and very fast: my sentencing hearing scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on March 24 in San Francisco Circuit Court. That is one appointment I better not miss. I pray for good tires and a reliable motor.
Can't leave the stuffed animals behind.
Although it may sound like it, I'm really not complaining. Not at all. Of course I am scared of what awaits me at the other end of I-80 and sad to leave my life behind in this involuntary fashion. Saying goodbye to Sorbet yesterday was one of the hardest things I've done in recent memory although of course it was easier than leaving my children when I was forced to depart Moscow. But I'm excited about this little trip despite what awaits - it represents something deeper, a bridge between old and new, a point when I finally come to terms with my wrongdoing and receive the punishment I know I deserve. And I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to take it. Many felons by this point have been languishing in jail for months.
All packed up.
I also hope to gain some perspective on my drive, perspective on my plight, perspective on this great, vast country we live in. The reality is that for most of the trip I will be sitting bored behind the wheel, but I look forward to meeting people at rest stops and diners and maybe even seeing a few sites. For whatever reason, I have always wanted to see the Hoover Dam, so I hope that I have time to stop.
If I am able, I plan to post along the way so that you can track my progress. I apologize in advance - it will most likely be interminable recounts of eating McChickens at waysides - but I'll try to make it as interesting as possible.
So goodbye Wisconsin, hello California.