One sunny morning in the early summer of 1990 I was enjoying a Spring day in Seattle, having just moved there after several years spent driving busses around the continent for an alternative travel company based in San Francisco.
I was sitting alone at my dining room table enjoying a cup of tea and looking out the window. It was the kind of day that made me want to head back out on the road; perfect blue sky, warm sun and a gentle breeze coming through the open window. As I sat staring out the window I dreamed about what I always dreamt about at that time what I'd be doing if I was still driving The Green Tortoise. I thought of myself behind the wheel of a classic motor coach full of international travelers ... I imagined us rolling through the beautiful countryside ... I imagined us stopping for a meal ... I imagined all the work that was involved ... I imagined the way I used to feel when I was out on the road: tired, haggard, and rootless ... I remembered the many odd moments that I used to look up from whatever beautiful place I was visiting and dream ... I would dream of a room ... a room with a door that closed ... a mug of tea and some peace and quiet ... a bed that didn't move ... waking up right where I went to sleep ... faces that didn't change every two weeks...
... it suddenly dawned on me that the very thing that I used to wish for out on the road was right where I was right at that moment.
From that day onward I stopped dreaming about traveling so much. I had always known that I would not travel forever. I had lived my time on the road. I had done exactly what I had set out to do. I had learned what I needed to learn. Now it was time to settle down.
"What You Are Looking For Is What Is Looking"
This saying from my days in Portsmouth now made perfect sense. I didn't actually find anything out there on the road. There's a lot of empty space. There are other people moving from one place to another. There are many choices and many destinations. Somewhere in that empty space you come to a new understanding of yourself. Like Dorothy discovered in The Wizard of Oz, everything I needed was with me all along, but I had to learn to distinguish what was inside me from what was outside me. Even if someone could have told me it was there and they did hearing about it and experiencing it first hand are two different things. I was certainly different for having spent time traveling but it was time to move on.
Looking Back at Life on the Road
Looking back on it now, I am amazed to think that I used to sleep in the back of a bus; that I used to wake up and have to figure out not only which bus I was in but also which state; that I used to drive and cook for 40 people and not think that was strange. From my current existence my life on the road seems like another life altogether.
I sometimes drive past certain spots in Seattle where I used to park the bus and say to myself, "I used to sleep in a bus right there".
It doesn't seem real but it was great.