There is no better place right now than on the back of my car. Freight carts are rolling through town, vibrating the surface beneath me. The light breeze of the night is what I would call perfect weather, day or night. Cars sporadically zip by on the road and air conditioners hum in the cement teepees around me. I'm right off old Route 66 and enjoying the peace, the calm.
It's an odd culmination to a week of somewhat elegance. I bounced from San Francisco to Orange County to one of the few five-star hotel resorts in the entire continent, the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona.
I've never been one to dream myself into the lap of luxury though. Like I said, here, off Route 66, almost feels like home in a strange, different-era type of way. I suppose I associated my aspirations with more simpler times. The blue-collar, white-t-shirt times of the 1950's appeals more to me than the stuffy button-up days I spent in NBC's 30 Rock after graduating college. Whether it is familial pride or a disgust for most jobs or something off in my brain, I was on the side of old-school Americana.
This is all exactly why I was in such shock as Jen Fu led a broken-jawed Dan around the Google campus. There were colorful, communal bikes for young, casual professionals to get around from building to building, where office space was just as open and accommodating as each spot's communal kitchen. There was a T-Rex model and a volleyball net. Top it off with a buffet dinner easily juggling Indian, Chinese, and Italian-American cuisine for employees and whatever schmucks they happened to bring around. I, being a schmuck, took full advantage. Something about it was so contrastingly desirable. Where a corporation could provide a relaxed work atmosphere, transportation, your meals, fitness centers, and what I'm sure is a modest salary, they could also own your days and nights.
Aside from the business tour, Jen Fu made my entire San Francisco experience memorable. We hit the town, drank it up and fist-pumped to house music till an ungodly hour of a weekday night, which is probably more like 4 AM. He was always enthusiastic, always eager to hear my plans.
What got to me was the familiarity. Where Google felt like NBC, his San Francisco apartment felt like my old Brooklyn. I lived mostly alone in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn for three months. My room was amazing, the neighborhood was friendly, and I felt like I carved out an odd place for myself in adulthood. In San Francisco I piggybacked Jen Fu's accomplishments as I cracked open his second-story window, shoveled takeout Thai food between my jaws and consumed a UFC marathon on television. It was a new dream come true. Such relaxation, such a place for me to enjoy myself. I could see myself living in a spot like that. And that thought reminded me of something terrible. I hated Brooklyn. It was so hard to meet people. It was so taxing to commute to Manhattan and cook healthy food for myself and stay fit. It didn't make sense. My dream was incomplete. So, trying to imagine myself in San Francisco was just like seeing myself oddly miserable in Brooklyn. I felt like it didn't fit as much as I loved it.
I had to ask myself the big question, as I often do. Why? Why do I aspire to more than makes sense to me? Why do I feel at home on Route 66 with the twilight breeze and, at the same time, aspire to be a young professional adult? It's extremely important to dream big, I know, but what made me furiously introspective and upset was the disconnect between my pleasure and my own mentality. Somehow I never linked up that my contribution to society, whatever profession it may be, would afford me a beautiful, spacious apartment in a happening city without being utterly miserable and running back to New Jersey every weekend to see my only friends. For most, a career is a shared, whispered sense of misery. Everyone has to work and everyone hates it. And the leap to link a more important job to a more important salary made the most cynical and fun-bashing of people. In San Francisco I had to confront the idea that work sucks.
Pushing forward from feeling sorry for myself and defending against my hangover, I had been on the road for more than three weeks because of the good graces of my national network of friends. I was so relieved to see my crazy godmother, Liz, and her soulmate, Mike, that I feel back into some relaxed limbo. On one more-than-intoxicating night my godmother assured me that my road troubles were normal. It was easy to get depressed when you're far from everything you've known to be normal. She gave me the reassurance I needed to know I was doing something important for more than myself. She said my mother was in awe of me, and whether or not those are the words my mother has used to describe me, I'll take it. I want to inspire awe. I want to raise awareness, create interest. There is more to life than we will ever know.
And that leads me to a place I barely know, Arizona. Hotter than Hades, I drove my hours to Scottsdale. Months ago, Trazzler, a new social network based around travel review, awarded me five nights at Fairmont hotels somewhere in North America for my contribution about a New Jersey tea shop. I won it fair and square. Now here I found myself, shaggy and sweating, in an extremely classy joint.
Career aside, I used to take pride in the class divide. Who was to say anyone had it better than another? Sure, there were differences, I just happened to side with the blue collar for some unfounded reasons. Maybe it was the thought that not every powerful millionaire had to be stuffed uncomfortably in a three-piece suit. I wanted to be the famed figure with a simple style and a fierce prospective.
In I walked to my five-star pad and again I was left lost. My bed was fit for a king. My mini fridge was stocked so tight I had to juggle snacks to keep my leftover Chinese food preserved. The view, the bellhop said, was absolutely the best in the resort. Forget the water fountains and fire below, Arizona is a microcosm from my cushioned patio chair. And again I wondered, is this right?
Of course, the reason I have to answer all these big questions is because I won't be on the road for ever. Back in the Garden State, there are friends and family and strangers expecting my return with stories and life lessons and recommendations for their own future adventures. And I can't wait. But in the meantime, I have to carve out my own landing strip.
The monster in the mirror is my flawed imagination. I have to convince myself still that there is nothing wrong with wanting more in this life. I felt half-hearted in dreaming of bringing a future girlfriend to the Scottsdale Princess without the need for a free ticket, us being able to enjoy the patio view. Why? I've often built dreams into structures to be forever remodeled. Somewhere down the road there is a place where my dreams will come to me as easily as this Route 66 breeze and I have a great feeling it's just around the corner.
Until next time...
I explode into space.