I can hardly believe it’s been nearly six years since David, Juneau and I packed up all of our earthly belongings in my old Pontiac Grand Am and blindly drove to New Mexico. We had only known each other a year, but we were young, dumb, spontaneous and looking for an adventure.
Why New Mexico?
When I first met David, he told me right away that he was “moving away” the following summer. He had just gotten out of the Marine Corps and he was still figuring out what to do with his life. Turns out, David had dreams of becoming a MMA fighter. When I tell people this, they give me a strange grin – like you’d give someone if they told you they wanted to become a famous actor or singer. I still get this reaction to this day.
The thing about David’s dream was that it was never farfetched to him, and it was never farfetched to me. We still talk about what could have been. I still believe he could’ve been successful at being an MMA fighter, but we didn’t give it long enough to find out.
New Mexico is actually the spot to be if you’re training to become an MMA fighter. I honestly never thought about living out west. I always thought I’d end up in Nashville somehow. But love changes things and I put all my trust into David – lucky for me it worked out!
On top of all of that, we had the ability to be transient and be silly, irrational, young people. We had saved up enough money, I had a job that allowed me to work from anywhere, and we had each other. Looking back, we really didn’t think any of it through. We didn’t even have a place to live when we arrived in Albuquerque. We stayed in a hotel for three days before we found a place. But we finally found an apartment and settled in. I worked from home and David spent hours at the gym. It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was all so worth it.
The Trip Without a Plan
We started outside of Charlottesville, Virginia and took 4 days to drive to Albuquerque. We stopped in Nashville, Little Rock, and Amarillo. Gosh, there are so many memories that we still laugh about today. Poor Juneau was such a champ throughout the entire trip, but finding pet friendly hotels was always a challenge. We were able to see so much of the country, experience crazy weather (we had to stop on the side of the road in Oklahoma because a tornado blew through.. not kidding), and really bond together as a couple. We had to work as a team to figure out our route, our plan, our finances, everything. It was as if we took our relationship to the next level just by deciding to embark on this journey together.
Of course, both sets of parents weren’t too keen on sending us out west without a plan. We were told we were crazy on multiple occasions, and we probably were. We had no idea what we were doing or what we were up against. As much as it was an adventure, it wasn’t without it’s hard times. I became homesick and eventually we decided to leave New Mexico because of it.
The Lessons Learned
If we were to move out west now, things would be so incredibly different than it was back then. Some time in between I became more high maintenance, more easily stressed about the logistics of things, and I would try to plan everything to a tee. I’m so glad I wasn’t like that when we actually took the trip. The unknown was the best part of all of it. I think every couple should go on a trip without a plan at least once in their lifetime. We learned about each other, about managing money, about traveling in general, and about what we really value in life – experiences trump everything.
Even now, 3 states, a wedding and a baby later we still reminisce about our trip out west. The foundation of our relationship is built on the way to New Mexico. Some people look back and wish they had traveled when they were younger. We never have to think that way. We did it! We were young, dumb, spontaneous and adventurous!
PPS. Our time in Indianapolis and Life in Wilmington, NC.