September 13, 1997, just before midnight. I stood in the middle of US Highway 89 in northwestern Montana, feeling like I had arrived at someplace important and pivotal. A place that should show on a map of my life with the words Go here.
Heavy, golden moonlight brought everything out of the shadows. Around me: the hulking shapes of mountains, slopes of land that curved down and back up again, a black ribbon of road. Far away, the light of one house.
I had stopped the car for no other reason than to look. At the moon, at the sky, at this vast and wide open land. The night was big. The world was big. How many times had the wind that filled my lungs traveled along the curve of the earth? I breathed in, sure it told me secrets of what my life could be, how big it could be.
At times, it’s hard for me to look at the photos from that trip and to see the younger version of me in them. I see how formed she thinks she is, how tender she is with her hopes. How she still believes there are answers to be found in a kiss or on the curve of the moon. I want to tell her things.
Like: Never stop making road trips like this one. Wander, wander. Let yourself feel lost, found.
But most of all (though I will never find words to explain how I know it), I would tell her that she’s right about one thing: The moon—constant and round and white—is still, somehow, an answer.