“Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
A road trip with a reward
It was a road trip from Dallas, Texas, to Laredo City at the Mexican border. If you drive on the i-35, your route will take through Waco, Austin, San Antonio, then a stretch of beautiful lands until you reach the city of Laredo. I believe it is around 800km (500miles), and if you drive non-stop, it takes about 6 hours. It took me 9 hours.
Have you ever had a moment with someone, an individual whom you’ve known for enough time to call a friend, where a single experience gave you a whole level of understanding of that person?
My friend (let us call him Carlos) asked me to drive him to the Mexican border. He packed his ten years in the US in a small bag and headed home to his wife and kids. I have been friends with Carlos for two years. We overlapped at a job, and we’ve been roommates (among others). I knew Carlos very well. I didn’t hesitate when he asked me for that favour. We packed and moved on Friday evening, aiming to be there at sunrise. Keep in mind this was pre-smartphones, so this trip relied heavily on a large Texas roads paper map and my understanding of it.
Everything went as predicted until we left San Antonio (after I picked up a meal from the burger joint). It was a full moon, and the stretch of road was well lit. It was country lands, as far as your eyes can see; A hint of civilisation here and there, but mostly the presence of the old ways and the scent of the aged woods everywhere. I made more stops than expected, and by sunrise, we were lost somewhere because I followed a sign that said Los Angeles (i thought it was funny to find a town with such a name there).
I remember we parked on a hill or something, overseeing a tiny town as the sun was coming up. I asked him then if he was going to miss the US and his time here. He paused for a bit then went on to say: without missing a beat, he said, “No, not at all. I will miss many things, but I am glad this phase is over.”
“It wasn’t for me. I was happy. Dallas was home. But it wasn’t for me. I made friends, people were friendly, and I had it better than many. I had fun, was paid fairly, and managed to support my wife and kids back home. But it wasn’t for me. I don’t belong here; it always felt like a temporary phase in my life. I know my kids will love it here one day, but this is for them to decide and move when the time is right. For me, home is across the border. Sometimes even the best job, good pay and good friends will not be enough if you feel out of place. I don’t know how to describe it; I have learned a lot and made new skills, which will help me back in my town. But I don’t miss it, being happy and being at peace are two different things compadre.”
For years, I never fully understood that. Today I can claim a piece to add to the conversation: peace in what you do will guarantee happiness, but not the other way around.