The Role of the Passenger.

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A drawing of mine, headed into Death Valley.
A drawing of mine, headed into Death Valley.

My friend and travel companion is an accomplished philosophy professor. He’s German and has written a lot of books. We traveled 5,000 miles together, all in. We made Kant jokes and I finally learned exactly what the term “hermeneutics” meant (don’t ask me right now.) He learned quilt history, the scoop on my upcoming project — he won’t tell and neither will I, but prepare! — and all about my family, just as I learned all about his. Five-thousand miles is a lot of miles. Dollar Rent-a-Car hates us.

My friend is a good driver and drove every mile himself, as the car was rented in his name. I was the full-time passenger, then, and let me tell you: it’s an art. Here’s what you Kant do:

– talk incessantly
– sing loudly (or at all, unless your companion likes to listen to someone singing in close proximity, which is highly unlikely)
– bite your nails
– clear your throat a lot
– toot (a lot)
– eat ice all the time from your drink

My passenger self did none of those things, except for the last one; I love eating ice and I think my friend was slightly annoyed in Week Three, but it’s a minor offense compared to tooting. But aside from all that, there’s something a passenger on a long road trip has to do: you must entertain yourself. The landscapes out the window will do most of this for you, but if you like to draw, sit quietly and think while you look out the window, or read — if you don’t get carsick — you and your companion(s) will be much happier.

Above is one of the many drawings I made on the road; each is a scene from the journey. I only had a pen and a pencil and I liked the limitation, actually. I haven’t drawn so much since high school. It was one of the gifts of the trip.

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