On the road!
Tomorrow morning, I’ll wake up, shower, eat breakfast, brew myself a thermos full of green tea, and then get in my car. Eight hours later, I’ll make my first stop: in Utah. I’m going to Yellowstone, baby.
A couple of months ago, after my breakup with Rafael, I knew I’d need some space to collect my thoughts and re-focus on my graduate studies. I wanted to go somewhere that didn’t have a cell phone signal or an Internet router. I wanted to write, and listen to birds and watch the sun rise from my tent. I wanted to drive for hours on end and stop when I wanted to, take photos when I wanted to, eat junk food when I wanted to. I wanted to challenge my camping skills. And, because I love people and surround myself with them all the time, I wanted to be alone. I had traveled alone before, when I was 19 years old, on a three-week backpacking trip in Europe. Then I had dealt with the chaos of bus stations, subway trains, hostels, money belts and pidgin French. But I had always been around others, either sharing a hostel room with several other thrifty North American students, or a night in a train station with drunk Hungarian men, but I had not been on my own in the forest, in the mountains. I wanted to be.
Traveling is in my family (my grandfather picked up his Norwegian family and moved to Africa; my father hitchhiked around the U.S. when he was 21 years old, in addition to living in Uganda, Jordan and South Africa), so you could say wanderlust is hereditary. But, in the case of my grandfather and father, it is also … male. And this message is repeated when you see movies about travel and adventure. For instance, these two:
In the first movie, 127 Hours (a movie everyone asks me if I’ve seen – I haven’t), the guy loses an arm. In the second movie, Into the Wild (a movie I have seen), the guy loses his life. Both a little grisly and gutsy and manly. What happens when you make a movie about a woman traveling alone? This:
That’s right. She’s eating gelato. Which is, I guess, adventurous? If you order the lemon flavor? And potentially life-threatening? You could cut your mouth on that spoon. *sigh*
So, if we were to base our opinions about women traveling alone on media alone, we’d face a staggering theme: women just don’t travel alone, and if they do, they travel to European cities and fall in love. And when they do, their movies won’t be as critically acclaimed:
Into the Wild: 8.2/10*
127 Hours: 7.9/10*
Eat, Pray, Love: 5.2/10*
There’s only one solution: make a movie about my life. I may not fall into narrow abysses, cut my own arm off or kill and gut an adult moose, but I will hike, take photos, cook oatmeal over a camp stove, read by flashlight and even encounter a bear or two.
Tell me that wouldn’t make a watchable movie.
To life, to happiness, to riding solo: l’chaim!