Nothing breeds friendship like enforced time spent together in tiny spaces, seeing the world and beholding its wonders together.
This is how I became friends with someone I will call Alissa. (Because that is her actual name.)
We'd already been working together for a year or two before taking this trip, but we taught at different ends of the building, had a pretty significant age gap, and therefore had nothing whatsoever in common.
But then right after I'd returned from a quick trip to San Diego for a friend's wedding, Alissa sat behind me in a staff meeting and casually said, "I always wanted to run a marathon out there," and I said, "Do it next summer and I'll go with you," and she said, "Okay," and then I leveraged this agreement to include not only the 2011 San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon but also a two-week road trip spanning gigantic swaths of the Southwest, including Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Panted Desert, Monument Valley, Canyonlands, Arches National Park, Salt Lake City, The Bonneville Salt Flats, Donner Pass, San Francisco, Big Sur, the PCH, and Los Angeles.
During this time, we were either cooped up together in a tiny car, hiking in tandem, or protecting one another from ax murderers while staying in bombed-out, third-rate motels with names like "The Homesteader Inn."
It should be noted that I've taken some awesome road trips with many other incredible friends over the years, and I'm thankful for every one of them. But this trip with Alissa continues to be the first time that I committed to a road trip with a relative stranger and came out at the end with a trusted friend.
We've even taken two more road trips together since this one, and hope for many more.
For more on this first trip, which I nicknamed the Great American West Adventure and blogged in some detail for writing practice, read a day-by-day summary by clicking the GAWA2011 link and scrolling backward. You'll see many, many more photos and -- of course -- shenanigans galore.