There’s something about a road trip alone… just you and the road. More specifically, just you and the road and your thoughts. As you clock miles on the odometer, without distractions, it provides thinking time, decision time, precious time. And so it was for me. This past week I traveled to the Bay Area for a couple of days of job interviews. It’s been a summer of chasing opportunities and those roads had led in different directions… all of a sudden converging right here… to an intersection where I’d have to choose. And so I hit the road. I could have flown for sure, but I wanted that time alone. I wanted that time to think things out. I wanted that time to myself.
The meetings went great here in LA and there in the Bay Area. So many incredibly talented people giving me faith that the news business is far from doomed. It’s beginning a metamorphosis.. and so am I. For two days I stayed with my cousins, toured San Francisco, lived out of a suit case, spoke with my wife and kids on the phone at night. It’s pretty amazing but just a couple of days away from the family can make you miss them so much. My kids asked how the trip was going, they wanted to know when I’d be home. They wanted to know if we’d be moving. They wanted to know all the answers. So did I.
After the second day of meetings finished, tired from the trip, with a long road ahead, I crossed the Bay Bridge to begin the trek back home. My iPad was my companion, a chance to listen to 400 miles of music that I never get to hear. I did the first 100 miles in no time. It’s that second hundred and the hundred after that where most of the thinking is done. The road down the 5 to Los Angeles can be long and lonely. It’s farmland and lots of it. It’s just you and the road and those thoughts. And so it was for me… thinking about these opportunities and a potential move and what the best move was for my career and for my family. My eyes stinging with exhaustion, the road continued on. The music kept playing. My iPad is a mix of a lot of old stuff and some news stuff. It was on shuffle and clearly the shuffle was trying to tell me something. Styx started with “Babe” and the words welled up inside me: “you know it’s you babe.. whenever I get weary and I’ve had enough… feel like giving up… you know it’s you babe,” I was homesick. Then the iPad sucker punched me again with Chicago’s “Colour My World”… “As time goes on, I realize, just what you mean to me…” By now I thought the iPad was conspiring against me. It was me and the road and the farmland and the iPad of music which was trying to sway my decision making. The iPad went in for the kill with a song you might not even know. It’s one of my favorites.. that song we all have which always triggers just the right emotions.. THAT song. “Forever Autumn” a song by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. In the middle of ten thousand songs of music, on a lonely drive back to Los Angeles, a chance shuffle of the iPad brought all these songs together. And Hayward sang, “A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes… as if to hide a lonely tear… my life will be forever autumn.. ’cause you’re not here“. And there I was on the 5 with two hundred miles left in my my drive, just a man and his thoughts, with tears filling my eyes. And all of a sudden the months of searching for my next career stop seemed to come into focus. If we needed to separate for months to make the job happen, if we had to leave the neighborhood we love and the friends we’ve made, if we had to sacrifice each other and that precious time together…
Without my family beside me, all of it was meaningless.
The final hundred miles of a long trip can go slow as molasses or lightning fast. Knowing my wife and girls were on the other end made the ride move quick. Sun was setting as I made my way over the Grapevine and into the LA area and finally down the side streets of town. As I made the final leg of the drive, I thought of one more song to add to that iPad mix “The Long And Winding Road” “that leads to your door… I’ve seen that road before… It always leads me here”. I finally pulled into the driveway of our tiny house. I went inside, dropped my bag, and greeted everyone. I was home. My decision was made.