The next day S and I left and headed for Port Aransas – I wanted to show off the glorious beaches I’ve often boasted of but the weather had other ideas. In fact the weather echoed what I felt deep inside: the wind howled, thunder rumbled, lightning flashed in the distance and the rain bucketed down. After a quick rumba in Bernie’s pub we turned in for the night. Sitting on the beach in the trailer, watching the storm and listening to the rain on the roof was exciting. By morning a combination of rains and high tide had cut us off from the road and we had to drive several hundred yards in 2 feet of sea/rain water to get off the beach. My beautiful truck had no trouble – I could breathe again.
We decided to start our journey: San Antonio was our first stop and I was looking forward to being able to show off Riverwalk and the Alamo, as I’d already visited them. But as we were leaving we hit more floods: the highway ahead was under at least 3 feet of water and I couldn’t see the end of it. Two cars had stopped halfway and only un-trailored pick-up trucks were going straight through. It seemed so ‘wrong’ because the rain itself had already passed and the skies were blue. Such a parallel: a flood inside me and yet blue skies (I hoped I was acting normally) on the outside. I drove into a large gravelled area and took a deep breath: what the heck should I do? Where were the cops when you needed them?
The weather seemed to agree with my gut and was doing everything it could to stop me leaving? A ridiculous idea? I had to get a grip. After an hour I followed a semi-truck and trailer as he drove up the dry but wrong side of the highway and then made a U-turn and drove an extra 50 miles around the flooded area towards San Antonio.
After making camp at KOA San Antonio (which, by the way, is the best campground I’ve stayed in so far with lots of space, grassy areas, trees, and a river) we caught the bus into town. We saw the Alamo bathed in lights and walked Riverwalk at night, eating guacamole and dancing to a jazz trio. Still I can’t shake this horrible anxiety? The bus journey home took 1 1/2 hours and we saw just about the whole city on the way! We had a lovely evening but still I have this icy-cold, uneasy feeling in my gut?
A big part of me wants to turn right around and go straight back; follow my heart and my instinct. Now… The inflexible, responsible part of me knows I ‘should’ go home and stick to my plans. I’d run out of the courage I needed to follow my instinct…
I could go back to Corpus Christi and leave again in a few more weeks? And when I’ve had time to catch my breath, then leave? Or I could carry on and in a few weeks, see how I feel. If only I knew exactly why I felt this way? (What does it matter ‘why’?) What on earth should I do? (That word’s come up twice in a few sentences: I should have picked that up!)
I’ve been so looking forward to this trip home for months; I knew leaving would be hard and devised it specially to ‘soften the blow’. And poor S. He came all this way to travel with me and what a miserable companion I’m turning out to be.
It was only over the last couple of weeks – when I had no choice but to face leaving here – that these doubts started to rise up and demand to be listened to: they wouldn’t be ‘softened’… I’m frozen into inaction and I just cannot get my head around this whole situation. I will listen and I will think – tomorrow.
The following day dawned sunny and I watched myself from a distance – an eerie sensation – preparing to leave. I seemed to be going through the ‘right’ motions but unable to ‘think’. I want to allow my feelings and just observe my behaviour.
After breakfast and using the KOA’s new facilities, doing laundry (a delay?) and an hour lounging by their beautiful pool (another delay?), S and I started our drive to El Paso.
On top of everything else, I forgot miles are almost twice as far as kilometres and realized El Paso would take far more than a couple of hours to reach. Get it together, Julie…
We passed rolling countryside and my friend commented that it reminded him a little of southern England or parts of BC. I blinked, left my confused thoughts and was in the present for a moment. It felt familiar and through his eyes I was able to thaw slightly and enjoy the day. We stopped again while I wrote my blog while my friend went for a walk, in search of a scorpion or rattlesnake. Instead he found what he called a ‘little piece of paradise’ – a small area thickly carpeted with wildflowers of every colour. In the middle of this ocean was a cactus, looking pleased with itself for finding such a spot where it would be well watered and pampered. Beautiful.
As we drove higher the terrain grew slowly more rugged and S said that for the first time he felt as though he were in a foreign country and on holiday. Gratefully I popped into the present for a moment again.
I wished I was more fun and a better travelling companion. I always tell my clients not to bother with guilt – such a useless feeling! I’d forgotten how difficult it is to get rid of.
In the past, have I somehow learned that I will lose anything ‘good’ in my life and so feel anxious and panicked at leaving Texas? No… That can’t be. The most important things in my life – my sons and family – are all here. I guess I lost my much-loved husband? And I lost my father… And my life in London, which was exciting and I loved it. I lost my good health. Somehow it didn’t feel right? I lost my life in the country in England when I had to leave… Ah. A place. When I liked a place I had to leave it and move…
Oak trees and gentle hills slowly gave way to more austere scrubland and slightly more jagged horizons: my mood grew similarly dour. We were 44 miles from Iraan with absolutely no civilization in sight. As nightime fell we realized we had very little gas left and after consulting the GPS decided that we had no option but to turn off our route again and head for Iraan to fill up. After a detour of over sixty miles we passed the spot where we originally turned – going round in circles felt familiar? There was a gas station too, just a few miles up on our original path! Tired out we found a truck stop in Fort Stockton and I fell into a too-tired, fitful sleep.