There really is no place like home.
For me, that means there is no place like the Northeast. I was born and raised in Auburn, Massachusetts, and my mom’s side of the family lives on Long Island. I spent seven and a half years living in New York City. So to call just one of those places “home” doesn’t really feel right. “The Northeast” feels more accurate.
And growing up here in MA, I had often heard of us being called “Massholes,” as well as often heard us calling ourselves that at times. It never really was a term I used much, but did find some prideful humor in.
Well, it wasn’t until driving back into the Northeast after being away for a year and a half that I really understood what that term means. No offense to my fellow Northeasterners, but what the hell? Seriously? We are assholes. I watched as slowly but surely, my fellow drivers and I became more and more hostile and aggressive, the deeper into the region I drove. Maybe it’s because there are more people and less space, but I ask again, what the hell?
(Sidenote: My instinct here is to say “what the fuck?” instead of “what the hell?” But I just read some interview with Maya Angelou and she said something about when she realized she was important, around the age of 19, she knew it was time to stop using ‘curse’ words. I really enjoy using them. Always have. I remember secretly using them on the playground in elementary school and feeling very grown up to have a secret way of behaving that my parents had no control over. And sometimes, there really seems to not be a better, more expressive way of making a point! But Maya Angelou is pretty amazing. And I know I’m important now. I know we all are. So maybe it is time? Hmmm…thinking about it.)
Anyways…Massholes. What the hell?
For the past 6 months, myself and other tribespeople have been writing all over my van. There are some pictures and words and it says “Tribe of Dreams.” On the back windows, it says “Co-create a great drive!” It also says my website, http://www.tribeofdreams.com.
Now I am not an idiot. I know that if I am going to give anyone that sees my van my contact info, I am taking responsibility of that. And especially if I am going to write “co-create a great drive,” that pretty much requires that I be a good, aware driver, otherwise I am going to hear about it. Everywhere I have gone, from California through Utah and Colorado, into Texas, I have gotten hilarious, entertaining, inspiring, and heart-and-soul-warming messages from people.
“Saw your van, made me smile!”
“Saw some people hanging out around this van, they were having so much fun and I felt the good vibes!”
“Welcome to Texas! We’ll show you around!”
And then here I am, feeling high on life, eagerly driving back to the Northeast. Excited. Feeling this epic “return home from the journey” feeling. Heart all open. I am stopping to sit in the forests, the woodlands. Another word I never really used or understood until I saw them again after a year and a half of being away. I love the desert. I love the shores. I love the mountains. I love the hills. But the woodlands…there is nothing like them. Old and wet and heavily-grounded.
So I’m basking in all this hilarious, cheesy homeward-bound glory and then people start cutting me off.
And flipping me off.
And riding my FUCKING ass (sorry, Maya). And all I could do was laugh. The contrast was too stark. Too ridiculously caricatured. Is this serious or did I just drive into a cliche?
So I ask again, my brothers and sisters of the general Northeast region, my brethren of the woodlands, my beloved fellow Massholes…
What’s the deal?
We are all just trying to get to where we need to be safely, right? Preferably in the shortest time possible? Isn’t that the shared goal? Can’t we work together on that? Mind our P’s & Q’s as some may say? What, I’m driving too slow so you are riding my butt to tell me to move over? Message received. Thank you. You obviously need to get somewhere faster than I do. Let me help and get out of your way. It is that simple. Not necessarily easy (as evidenced by me giving myself a road rage time out in a State Park in Connecticut a few hours after my big “we really are dicks when we drive up here” revelation), but simple nonetheless.
So I get back to my hometown of Auburn, MA, or A-town as we used to call it in high school. And I get on the internet. And I see I have a new email. I open it.
“To whoever was driving the white van today…”
I begin to smile, my ego getting ready for it’s stroke, my heart opening to receive some lovely message.
“…YOU ARE A FUCKING DICK!!!”
Ah, yes! Home sweet home! 🙂
Seriously, I don’t think I would have felt so at home so quick if I didn’t get yelled at by a Masshole within moments of my arrival. It is our Massachusetts way of rolling out a red carpet 🙂
I’m not sure what I did to this man to provoke such hilarity, but I sure am sorry. And I sure am even more aware of how I drive now than before that happened. And I have a great, hilarious story to tell that you, Sir Charlie, are forever the star of. So thank you.
So, I leave you all with a challenge, should you choose to accept! We are responsible for co-creating all of our interactions. Driving is something that can easily generate stress we are unaware we are carrying with us, which is not good for us. We can each take a part in consciously creating a community among whatever drivers are sharing the road with us at this precise time. A wave, a smile, a yielding attitude, these can go a long way to creating a pleasant driving experience in which we are all engaged together instead of isolated and detached and completely in our own little headspaces, aggressively competing.
If you would like to challenge yourself to be a responsible, accountable member of the community of the road, write a message with a similar intention to what I wrote, “Co-create a great drive!” Want to step up further? Give a contact. Your email address or website. You are also welcome to use http://www.tribeofdreams.com if you feel like you are a tribesperson that is interested in promoting and co-creating the experience of the Tribe of Dreams across the world. I will share any emails I get in response. Here’s to hoping for more hilarious, yet less angry responses 🙂
Remember that we are all in this together, this beautiful Life trip.
Yes, it’s just traffic. This is a whole lot of words and thoughts about traffic.
And, anxiety and stress and fear and anger are undeniably part of our cultural illness. We all share some piece of that. So something as simple as writing a loving message to our fellow drivers on our car can be part of the healing of that.
Peace and love family.