Trip of a lifetime turns into adventure of lackluster proportioned

Jillian LeBlanc, Reporter

I signed myself up for the “trip of a lifetime,” when my best friend invited me on her road trip across the United States. I always dreamed of going on an adventure like this, but never thought it would really happen.

Although money is tight, with me putting myself through college, I didn’t want to regret not taking this opportunity. This was my chance to finally see the country from coast to coast, and all that’s in between.

The weeks leading up to the big departure were filled with excitement. Between friends, family, and coworkers, I was reminded how lucky I am. It’s not an exaggeration to say; every single person said that I was going to have the greatest time of my life, and to enjoy it. I was following in the footsteps of my two older brothers, about to discover the world for myself, about to achieve a dream.

I left Buffalo with two friends, girls who I would be spending the next couple of weeks with. The plan was to spend three weeks in various Southern states and cities, between New York and California.

I was then going to fly back from a California airport, while my friends continued the Northern drive back home. A plan that initially seemed so solid, so perfect, soon began to crumble as Day One wore on.

We drove through four states the first day, and I honestly can’t tell you much about them. It was simply a blur of driving between New York and Tennessee. We never detoured through any cities, we never slowed to explore the area, and we certainly didn’t stop for any local food.

We simply drove down the highway, and occasionally stopped for gas. At the time I didn’t realize that this would be the theme of our trip… stopping only when necessary, and following highways that showed the same scenery mile after mile.

When we stopped that night, we ended up getting a motel room due to issues with local campgrounds. We previously agreed to spend most nights either pitching a tent or sleeping in the car, as a way to save money. We didn’t want to blow funds on a room each night, but somehow we did just that. Out of 10 days, nine of those involved paying for a motel room… that was several days of spending unnecessary money.

I felt confined in my decision. As a typically headstrong person, I never expected to feel so helpless. I was in the minority for each and every decision. When they didn’t want to go into the city, we avoided them. If they didn’t want to eat local, we got chain store junk, or had snacks from the car.

When they didn’t want to sleep in the car, or find a campground, we got a motel room. I didn’t have a choice. It wasn’t my car we were driving, and my vote never mattered.

I was foolish; I didn’t know what I got myself into. I carelessly agreed with the assumption that every day had a purpose; I was going to physically explore chunks of each state, not glimpse pieces of it out of a car window. I was going to witness many different American cultures, try their food, hear their history, and discover their nuances.

I also thought the generous budget I gave myself would be more than enough… but I was wrong, about everything.

I signed up for this trip because it was affordable, I found ridiculously cheap airfare, and I genuinely enjoyed the people I was going to travel with, but along the way, it all fell apart. My supposed best friend turned into something unrecognizable as time went on. In such a short period of time she morphed into someone I didn’t want to be around.

She changed before my eyes, and took unrelenting control over our itinerary. What started out as a joint trip, soon saw a rise to an unstoppable dictator. My initial reasons for tagging along then got crossed off one by one. I blew my budget, racked up the price of my plane ticket by changing my flight, and ended up resenting my friends.

I couldn’t do it anymore. We made it west, and I knew that things would only get worse if I stayed. It simply wasn’t working out, and I couldn’t take it anymore.

I packed my pride, along with my bag, and booked a new f light home. I tried so incredibly hard to make it work, to get what I wanted, while making sure that everyone else was happy. I ended up placating my friend countless times, because I didn’t want to unleash her merciless wrath.

I realized that while my friend had changed, I did as well. I’ve never been the type to pacify when there’s a conflict; I pick my battles, and fight the ones I believe in, but my willpower was broken. I left because I needed to.

What was supposed to be an exploration of my country, ended up being an overview that could be seen through Google. I drove through many states, but I know nearly nothing about each and every one. Sure, I saw some truly astonishing sights at one point or another, but looking back, all I can see is my misery.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this… I was supposed to have the best time of my life… but that right there, is the silver lining. Every trip is not perfect, some dreams are better in our heads, and sometimes everyone isn’t right.

I had a pretty crummy vacation, but I achieved something I always wondered about. Although the results weren’t favorable, I did what I sought out to do; I drove across America.

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