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Reasons and pictures

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Three weeks ago, I left Raleigh on a cross-country road trip that would take my little brother, Jordan, and me west to California, up the coast and back home through the Midwest. We'd spend 18 days in a Toyota Corolla with what we hoped would be more than enough music to satisfy us when we felt like listening and looking, not talking.

I'd been meaning to make this voyage for a long time now, but finding the perfect time and the right funds is always the issue. I graduated from N.C. State in December and found myself entering the desolate journalism world, so I took a semester off, working in kitchens and paying rent. Later this week, I head to Nashville to deepen my debts as a film student. So, two months ago, I decided there may never be a better time than now.

I've previously seen much of this country, but now—after taking it all in through long, continuous drives, with the nights spent in a little green tent—I feel I have a different perspective on its beauties and imperfections.

Like through the Appalachians, where the fingers of low clouds creep over hilltops and wind through the trees.

For both my brother and me, it was a trip not only back to our roots in California, but also to see sights that might renew creative juices. In the daily grind of school and jobs, ideas and imaginations stagnate.

Like the plains of Oklahoma and Texas, where clouds ache for the Texas heat and suspend perfectly parallel to the long, flat lands.

But a lingering notion nagged at me throughout the adventure, and I worry it will follow me to Nashville. Am I just escaping from something I can't quite pinpoint, hoping that the road will take me somewhere to forget whatever it is that didn't satisfy me back there, where I've been?

Like an Arizona sunset over a lonely desert, its unimagined colors shuttling you west.

I tend to get claustrophobic in places I've stayed too long. From Southern California to rural North Carolina and, now, to the road...

Like those that snake through cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, waves crashing, as if reaching for something new.

Maybe it's a fear of commitment that has me and so many others my age so afraid of being confined. After all, I'm just now realizing how open my coming years really are.

Like the night sky from high in the Sierra Nevadas, where the stars are so numerous you can't fully grasp them.

There are still so many things to encounter for the first time, so many people to meet. The road brings us together, creating a mobile colony for the restless.

Like the view from a 12th-story fire escape in downtown Chicago, where the sight of glowing windows reminds you how many others are wrestling an uncertain future.

We fight with ourselves, not knowing where to settle but hoping, and sometimes knowing, that settling will likely happen soon enough. As for now, I'm happy with these adventures.

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