There they were, four people, one pickup truck, no particular place to go.
Why say no when you could say yes? At least that’s the thought that all of them had. Other than the standard common thoughts – this is a bad idea, I must be psychotic, why am I even doing this.
But there they were, four people, one pickup truck, in North Carolina, at 5:29 on a muggy June morning.
They had linked up via Facebook and agreed to meet here, at this spot, with the motivation to travel, but they weren’t exactly sure where.
Niamh was the first to arrive. Her long brown hair pinned under a bandana, she wore an outfit she thought wouldn’t impress anyone – a greenish blue shirt, a white cardigan (in June? She had to stay warm somehow), and a long tie-dyed skirt with butterflies appliqued all over it. Armed with a cup of coffee in a travel mug and a guitar case, she promptly fell asleep on a bench and didn’t wake up until the last of the four had arrived, a rude awakening that didn’t exactly get them all started off on the right foot.
Jane and Simon arrived next, roughly at the same time. It wasn’t a coincidence, they both happened to be very punctual people. Some would say that they were boring, but that wasn’t the case. I mean, what human can really be described as boring, especially in this situation they found themselves in. They weren’t quite ready to “rock and roll” as the kids say, but for this Scooby Doo mystery wagon without the dog, they were as prepared as they could be.
Simon was as nondescript as you’d think someone named Simon to be. The most interesting thing about him at first was that his official name, his legal name, for some reason, was Simone. It was written on his birth certificate and subsequently printed on his driver’s license – again, no particular reason, but he never bothered to get it changed because it didn’t bother him that much. Simon was the kind of person that got easily irritated by everything and nothing. Not the greatest travel companion, but he had the personality that kept him going. He arrived with a backpack full of screen-printed shirts and khakis, which is also what he sported that morning. He approached from the opposite direction as Jane, with a scowl on his face that he didn’t mean to wear, it was just his normal resting face beneath his oversized oval eyeglasses.
Jane was the kind of person who people were naturally drawn to, with light eyes and short blonde hair. She never pictured herself as the motherly type, and she certainly had no intentions of being a mother figure to these three knuckleheads. As much as Simon was dressed to blend in with the scenery, Jane sort of stood out in her outfit of choice for Day 1. She reminded Simon of a well-intentioned journalist in a third world country, with a pastel pink button up over a white t-shirt and blue pedal pushers. Combined with her shoulder-length blonde hair, she looked like the sort of person who would be naturally perky in the mornings even before her coffee, or who didn’t even need coffee to be perky in the mornings. She wore a smile, but in reality she was scowling on the inside because she was not a morning person.
Rodrigo was the last to arrive. The sun was already up, and according to Jane’s watch, he was almost thirty minutes late, at 5:52 AM. Sunrise that morning had been at 5:19. They hadn’t really agreed on any particular time, just “around sunrise” so that they could get a jump on the day and get going before it started to get unbearably hot. But Rodrigo was an undeniably important person for the group, because he was the one with the keys to the truck, without which they would just be four random idiots who decided to pack their stuff and meet at the crack of dawn. Rodrigo wore a black and white striped shirt, black and white track pants, everything about him was black and white except his windswept hair, which had tints of red in it as the sun rose. He drove the truck up to the spot where everyone was waiting – Niamh asleep on the bench, Jane perched on her bag, and Simon staring off into the distance – and comfortably, through his discomfort, saw that the three of them matched the descriptions of themselves and the pictures on their profiles, and that none of them seemed like ax murderers. He stopped the truck at the curb, twirled the keys around his finger, and got out, walking around the back of the vehicle to face the group for the first time. Jane was the first to greet him, with a firm handshake, followed by Simon, who staged an awkward hug with a pat on the back, even though it was Jane who seemed like more of a hugger and Simon more of a hand-shaker. Niamh was still fast asleep on the bench, her hair hanging over the back of it, but she woke up with a start when Rodrigo jostled the side of the bench, causing her coffee mug to spill over accidentally, getting her hair wet, which woke her up, somewhat angrily.
Bad luck, in a truck, indeed – at least that’s how the trip was starting off to be.
But without much fanfare, they loaded up, and they were soon to be off. The seating arrangement came naturally, and would be theirs for the duration of the trip, however long it would be. Rodrigo in the driver’s seat, Jane next to him in the passenger seat, Simon behind her, and next to him, Niamh, who was asleep again as soon as they pulled away from the curb.