Tobias Wolff on the understated intimacy of road trips

“I spent a lot of time in cars when I was a kid, and you know, there’s something about cars— you’re going somewhere, you’re occupied, which can make people very unguarded in their conversations. I hitchhiked across the country a couple of times when I was a kid, and I used to have the most intimate conversations with strangers. It’s partly because you’re also a stranger and they know you’re going to be getting out. And you know you’re going to be getting out, so you’ll say things, too. Not everything I said in these cars was truthful, and I’ll bet that the things that were told to me weren’t in every case truthful, either. But you know, they are wonderful theaters, automobiles, and the intensity of intimacy doesn’t become embarrassing because you’re supposedly doing something else—one person’s driving, and you’re both looking ahead, not at each other, and you’re going somewhere, and it gets dark and there’s a kind of trance one gets into, and something lifts, some reticence lifts. It’s just amazing what people will say to each other.”
–Tobias Wolff, interviewed by Jack Livings, The Paris Review, Fall 2004

Posted by | Comments (3)  | March 26, 2012
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

3 Responses to “Tobias Wolff on the understated intimacy of road trips”

  1. Dave Says:

    I would say that’s not only the case when hitch hiking, but when backpacking as well. You’re both from different countries, and chances are that you will never see each other again, so you just hang out, and talk about whatever is on your mind while exploring your new and different environment.

  2. Lisa @chickybus Says:

    Great quote! I think some of this–the intimacy–is also more likely to happen because travel, whether a road trip or backpacking, has a unique way of accelerating and compressing events and emotions.

  3. Mike Says:

    I def agree with this statement. That is why I love backpacking, its hard to get that any other way in life!