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Rx: Road Trip

How an RV trip to Seattle Cured my Post-Grad Blues

Me and the Jeep, along the Lost Coast of Northern California

After graduation, I went home, packed some hiking shoes, stocked up on my go-to fuel (Diet Coke and cheese sticks), and hopped in an RV with my mom with no plan except to eventually see the Star Trek exhibit at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Over ten days, we traveled along the coast hiking through mountains, off-roading in the Jeep (I learned how to drive stick), gambling in weird casinos, hitch-hiking, drinking local wine, swimming in rivers, ogling Star Trek memorabilia, and laughing beside campfires.

If, like my dear Grandma Teresa, you’re wondering, “Why is Caity galvanting around instead of getting a real job?!”, first off — I am now officially looking for a real job (please hire me?). And secondly — while the RV trip was a fun adventure, it was also an important one: it cured my post-grad blues, and gave me my drive back. Here are four ways how that happened.

  1. I rested when I needed to rest.

Graduation was exhausting. Physically, emotionally, ~spiritually~, I felt like a burnt marshmallow. In the month leading up to the big day, put simply, a lot of shit went down. I’d received a job offer and ultimately rejected it, ended a relationship, finished two internships, and moved away from many of my dearest friends. (Not to mention the graduation parties… I really just needed to sit down and drink some freaking vitamin water.) So for me, taking a break to take care of my mental and physical health post-graduation was really, really necessary. By leaving everything behind to travel, I was able to be with myself and experience new things in an undistracted way. If that sounds like some hippy nonsense, here’s what actually happened: I dramatically stared out of a car window in existential thought for like thirty hours, and after awhile, I felt better.

Post RV-trip-cure, I’m exercising regularly for the first time in straight-up years, and I’ve had time to process all the crazy changes I just went through. I’m happier, and more relaxed. I’d say that’s pretty important.

2. I witnessed lifestyles that were different — and still good.

It’s easy to feel like an ugly, futureless turtle when your 22-year-old friends are working for NASA, attending Harvard Law, modeling for Vogue, and saving children from diseases in Guatemala. I’m not kidding, my friends are literally doing these things. And while I’m crazy excited for them, I also feel wildly inadequate about myself. Why can’t I be living in a cool Brooklyn apartment drinking espressos with Ira Glass?

The cure for this millennial malaise: some perspective. When my mom and I were traveling through Oregon, we met a lot of people who had never left their small towns. Some worked in local restaurants, or at the National Parks — one guy was a budtender, which was dope. And, here’s the crazy revelation: they were happy. I was happy. Nobody cared that I wasn’t a NASA engineer, and nobody cared about my GPA. They were swimming in the river just like me, enjoying the summer with their families and friends. That’s when I said to myself: “Hey, you, privileged jerk - your education doesn’t make you better — or happier — than anybody else.” And, extrapolated, that means my friend with the NASA gig isn’t living a better or happier life than me. It’s just different. Maybe I should stop comparing myself to everybody.

3. On the flip side...

Have you ever been driving through rural Oregon and really craved sushi? Pro tip: fly back home to San Francisco. You aren’t getting any sushi (well, without destroying your bowels).

I am a city girl. I was born and raised in the Bay Area, where hundreds of cultures flourish, political activism is a constant, and creative industries thrive. I love making things happen, surrounded by people who challenge me to think differently and work harder. While I admired the natural beauty and charm of the rural places we visited, I also realized that I can’t do the small-town, burgers-and-bowling-with-my-family life. My goals vibe more Mad Men — you know, creating campaigns in my corner office with a booze cart. Obviously, if I’m going to live the happenin’ cosmopolitan life I want to live, I’m going to need to work my ass off. And for me, that’s a super exciting challenge. It turns out seeing what I didn’t want inspired me to get into gear and hustle for what I do want. So thankfully…

4. I came home sick and tired of sitting on my ass.

Anybody who knows me will say that I go crazy without a job to do. Although the adventure was amazing, rejuvenating, and needed — I came back from this road trip thoroughly tired of sitting in an RV and reading books. I want a challenge, and I want it now! I don’t feel overwhelmed by the tasks on my to-do lists — I feel ready to tackle them. And that’s exactly what this road trip gave me: my drive back.

So, Grandma, there you go. Maybe the road trip got me somewhere after all.

…Also, I got to see the original Gorn costume from Star Trek Original Series “Arena” (Season 1 Episode 18) and honestly that should be explanation enough. Live long and prosper.