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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TCU chapter.

“Nostalgia is a road trip on I-10.”

No, you didn’t read that title wrong. Have I gone mad? Maybe, but let me explain.

If you’ve ever driven Interstate 10 from Texas toward California (or vice-versa), I’m sure this assertion appears far-fetched, and quite frankly, insane. For those reading who have never had to endure this trip, I encourage you to Google “western I-10” and view some pictures. This interstate is America’s not-so-hidden gem (and I write this with the hope that you can sense the full breadth of my sarcasm in that statement).

A seemingly endless highway, I-10 covers the southern half of the United States, stretching across a barren desert in the west. To some, I-10 is a simple means of travel, looking for the quickest option from point A to point B. For me, it is a reminder of the over-thousand-mile trek that divides my family.

In 2008, my family moved to Texas, leaving the Golden State and my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins behind. While this was the best decision financially for my family, the distance from my relatives, whom I am so close with, has always been emotionally bearing. Holidays and birthdays came with a sense of sadness, longing to be together. To reconcile for this distance, my family would often spend a large part of the summer months at my grandparent’s house in California, making the yearly trip across I-10, totaling an almost 3,000-mile journey by the time of its conclusion.

Every summer, my brothers and I would sit with our dogs in our laps in the backseat of our family’s car, squished between suitcases. As our parents drove, we’d count the cacti and tumbleweeds as we passed through each state, ticking down the hours to our destination. There wasn’t much to see aside from the occasional small town. Yet, despite the bleakness of the landscape, there is a certain nostalgia that comes from that dreadful day-long drive – a beauty in the mundane, if you will.

On I-10, time slowed. The stresses of daily life were left behind at home, fading with distance. Instead, a sense of contentment replaced the day-to-day rush in Texas, understanding that almost all of what I considered to be important in my life was sitting in the car with me.

After countless trips, I-10 became so much more than a boundless stretch of asphalt. It was the anticipation of seeing my family, knowing that we’d soon be together. It was the sound of my dad’s playlists – U2, the Dave Matthews Band and The Killers blasting from car speakers. It was the smell of a summer rain or the glowing hues of a desert sunset. It was the sound of Dodger games on the radio, my parents singing and my brothers’ laughter after playing Mad Libs.

Most of all, when I think of I-10, I think of the stars. In the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from a town and light pollution, stars covered the night sky in a way unlike in Texas, thousands of glimmering lights over the interstate. Staring up at the sky with Bob Dylan playing in the background, I always felt small and insignificant, a therapeutic feeling I can only think to describe as being lost in time.

This all seems cheesy, I know, and I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I haven’t complained heavily about those road trips in the past. Now, however, as my siblings and I are growing older and these trips become harder to work around our busy schedules, I find myself missing them and the time my family spent together on the road.

We all have an “I-10 road trip” in our lives, something that seems unpleasant at the time but provides immense joy in retrospect. I encourage you to reflect on these moments and use them as motivation to seek the joy in your ordinary experiences; you may never know how much that seemingly insignificant moment may be of emotional value in the future.

If you’re interested in some songs for you next road trip, this is the playlist that inspired this article!
Abby is a junior at Texas Christian University, double majoring in political science and journalism with a minor in Spanish. She works for TCU 360 and is involved with the Ignite chapter on campus, TCU's pre-law organization, and the school's marching band. In her spare time, you can find Abby at a soccer or baseball game, longboarding, swimming, or playing music.