December 25, 2013
by Ken Sin in Minden, LA
Day One. I’m sitting next to Stephen Alexis in a 1996 Jeep Cherokee. I’m at 86th st and Broadway. I’m listening to 2 Chainz with the windows rolled down. I’m waiting to meet up with the ambulance so we can depart from New York and drive down to South America over the next three months. I’m thinking to myself: How did I get here?
Day Three. Christmas Eve. I’m driving down some long stretch of highway somewhere in Alabama or Mississippi. Although we’re supposedly in The South now, it’s under 30 F, colder than New York. It’s 10 o’clock Central Time, but the clock on the dashboard still says 11 because we’re afraid adjusting the time will somehow make this old jeep explode.
It’s late in the P.M. so it’s completely dark outside. I’m driving my 2-4 hour shift. Stephen A. is knocked out in the passenger seat. My short playlist of songs is repeating itself. It’s not a particularly rugged or adventurous drive, so I use the time to think. It’s easy because all I have to do is follow the ambulance. In fact, maybe it’s too easy. I’m left with so much time and space in front of me that eventually, I run out of things to think about too. I just step on the gas and stare.
In front of me, I see nothing but the back of the ambulance. The rearview mirror and the side mirrors of the jeep are pitch black because there are absolutely no other vehicles behind us at the moment. I know the sides of the highway are lined with trees but it’s so dark outside that I can’t see them. I should keep my eyes on the road, but I quickly peek out the side window and look up. There are a lot of stars in the sky. A lot more than New York. And I really like starlit skies. So at least The South has that.
Actually, the stars are always there. We just can’t see them till it’s night time. I just can’t see them till I get out of New York.
For those that don’t know, the jeep is the Last Responders support vehicle. That’s how we’re getting all the shots outside of the ambulance while we’re driving. That’s how we travel as a team of seven. That’s just how we roll.
I’m sure there will be many more “How did I get here?” moments on this journey. Things have barely gotten crazy yet.