Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Journey Towards Home
Forty eight states in ninety days. It was the title of my master’s thesis. As a sociology major, I wanted to write about what made America great, and different all at the same time. When I left Los Angeles two months ago, I thought I knew what I would find driving my old beat up VW Bug across the US. Instead I was amazed by how both similar and diverse our populace was. It also challenged my preconceived ideas about the regions and states and how people were supposed to behave.
I never would have imagined to find a gay commune smack in the middle of Arizona, a state not exactly known for its inclusivity. The people in parts of Arkansas were suspicious of outsiders and my camera, but they still invited me into their homes just the same and were as friendly as anyone I met in the Midwest once they got to know you. Of course stereotypes were still there and some more accurate than others, but it was the exceptions that made my trip worthwhile.
I was in western New York, driving through the finger lakes and as much as I enjoyed the region’s chardonnay, I was beginning to miss my own tempurpedic mattress and living in a space that was larger than the motel 6 bedroom where I was staying. I still had thirty days to finish my northern route to head through Ohio and all along the states bordering Canada before heading through the Pacific Northwest and down through California. I was really curious to see if people in North Dakota spoke like Canucks and if people in the rainiest part of the country really were the biggest and snobbiest consumers of coffee. I didn’t think they could top the extravagant Starbucks orders I’ve seen mastered at my local shop in Santa Monica, but I couldn’t wait to be proven wrong.
Tonight, I was headed to an art showing at the Corning Museum of Glass. James, a handsome man I ran into during a wine tasting earlier had invited me to experience the famous museum as his date. My motto for this journey was to experience all that the locals had to offer, no matter how big or small an event was. I’d come this far to experience everything and everywhere the journey took me. This evening, I guess I’d learn all about the fine art of glass blowing with a hunky man on my arm. Not the worst way to spend an evening. My least favorite event I’d attended had to be the Mullet toss festival I stumbled upon during my trek up from Florida. Who knew throwing a fish over state lines was something to celebrate?
A knock at my motel room door drew me out of my thoughts of yicky fish throwing. Pulling the door open, I saw James standing there with a shy grin gracing his chiseled face. His sandy colored hair was tousled in a way that appeared like he’d spend a long time to ensure it fell just so. He looked slightly uncomfortable wearing his dark wash jeans and form fitting navy shirt. Knowing he worked as an artisan and not in a stuffy office, I understood his discomfort.
“Ready to go?” his voice was deep, gravelly and all male.
“Yep. Just let me grab my purse.” Wandering into the room, I watched him from the corner of my eye, feeling a bit stupid now for giving a stranger my motel number.
“I thought maybe we could grab something to eat first? There’s this great italian joint not too far from the museum.”
Turning to face him, I saw now that he seemed uneasy, in a cute and shy way. “That sounds great.” I smiled warmly at him and took his hand, trying to ease his mind from whatever was making him look so stressed out. “Are you okay? You seem a little nervous.”
With a tense chuckle, he replied he was fine, but I could tell something was bugging him.
“Okay, but you know, if you don’t really want to go out, we don’t have to--”
He placed a finger across my lips to silence my rant. “Chelsea, from the moment I met you earlier today I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I’m nervous because I know you’re leaving in the morning to continue the rest of your trip, which means I only have one shot at making an impression.”
Hearing his sweet thoughts, I melted just a little bit. “Well, why don’t we see where tonight goes, and we’ll have to figure out the rest later?”
With a simple nod, we walked towards the center of town. Little did I know when my trip was all done and my thesis completed I’d make my way back to the sleepy town of Corning. James helped secure a job for me as a sociology professor at Alfred University. I was happy that my journey took me through central New York, because if I hadn’t, I’d never have found the most unexpected realization from my three month adventure -- my soul mate.
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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com