Do you like country music? I like country music (please keep reading).  “Texas Was You” is a song by Jason Aldean about how certain objects or places are accompanied by specific memories.  Since many of my experiences on the road are new ones or routines, I don’t have anywhere else I quickly form certain associations.  Most obviously, Fall means travel.  Football means hotel bars or a rare weekend home.  Texas means humidity and name tags upon name tags upon name tags that I’ll find on suit jackets for the next six months.  There were a few humid days in LA and I couldn’t help but feel like my Fall had creeped into summer life.  Hearing “yes ma’am” and “y’all” without flinching is a cornerstone of my time in Texas.  These are all broad things, but specific memories will pop up that only happen while on the road.

I file trips in my head according to the rental car I was driving for each trip.  The rental car I have dictates the music I listen to (XM radio, FM radio or do I hook up my phone) and music is a huge trigger of memories for me.  I made a playlist of songs for last year’s recruitment and this year’s is constantly under construction.  Any of those songs from 2012 comes on and I think of my white Jeep that I heard them in. My 2013 mix has been under construction since I hit the road.  If you’re curious, check it out here:

NametagI was at Little Bigs in Houston when I found out Steve Jobs passed away.  I woke up to the news of Lane Kiffin being fired while in Houston.  I was in a random office building parking lot in San Antonio while I talked to my best friend about reconnecting with an ex boyfriend after Hurricane Sandy.  I can never remember my name tag but while driving to a school this morning I recalled the Starbucks I sat at last year and the employees who were gossiping next to me and the friend I finally got to catch up with on Gchat.  I basically have a memory associated with every Starbucks in my territory–I’ve either been there or lamented that I didn’t have enough time to stop by.

I will revisit restaurants year to year and reminisce about the things I was worried about back then and what is on my mind now.  These anchors in time are strangely comforting.  I suppose I pay more attention on the road because I am alone and because I’ve somehow convinced myself things are just different than home.  While at dinner, I commented to a friend how nice everyone was in Texas and he asked if people were really THAT much nicer here.  In reality, I don’t think they necessarily are. I think I’m just more aware of it and, quite honestly, I am probably the one who is nicer and more open.

My Central Coast travel consistently carries a lot of weight because it is always my last trip.  I spent a weekend in Morro Bay and will always remember my first real solo ‘vacation’ and the people I met that weekend.  It wasn’t until the girl working at the coffee shop remembered me the second morning I went there (as did the pizza guy who served me Friday night and then stopped his truck to let me cross a street the next morning) that I realized what it meant to live in a small town.

My last trip in Houston (a la Sophomore Slump) my hotel room had bed bugs, so the past two weeks have been pretty itchy and unsightly, I have photos but this isn’t WebMD.  Suffice to say, I will not forget about it.  I’ve also gotten my yearly cold a bit earlier than usual but will be home this week to recuperate.  On the bright side, I went to the Local Natives show at the House of Blues in downtown Houston (to complete the trifecta of a concert each travel season) and saw my annual Fall movie (this year was Enough Said).  While I can never predict the little things that will stand out each trip there is no doubt that every recruitment season is filled with memories that I will hold on to forever.

By Sam Schreiber