Reporter’s notes: Going to look for America

Nicole Aikens

This summer, for the first time in my 19 years of existence, I am going on a road trip. I’m packing up at that end of the summer with my best friends, and we’re making the 15-hour trek to the Sunshine State.

For me, road trips and music go hand in hand. You put in a CD and let it play while you watch the landscape fly by or read your favorite book. This simple, lovely idea got me thinking: Why not pick a song to define my trip to Florida?

My song will be “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. The girl in “Almost Famous” had it right when she said, “This song explains why I’m leaving home to become a stewardess.” It is a very versatile little ditty.

The lyrics talk about looking for America. I take that two ways; the first being the narrator is quite literally looking for America. He’s seeing all of the things as they pass. The fields and cars and people. America. He’s seeing everything he has never seen before.

But, I’m almost certain it’s more metaphoric than that. Rather than saying he’s trying to find himself, the narrator says it by saying he’s looking for America. In reality, he’s traveling across America to find himself.

So, here’s what that means for me: Seldom have I been out of my northeast Ohio shell of a life. I went to a school where my graduating class was 150 people. I lived in the same house since I was in third grade. My life has always been good, and for that I am thankful. But I’ve never really seen anything.

Fortunately, I’ve always had a pretty good grip on who I am and who I wanted to be, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more for me to find.

I’m going off this summer with “America” in mind because I know there’s always going to be more for me to learn. There’s always going to be more for me to see. I may not be leaving in search of something, but I’m going to find things along the way, and when I find them I’ll grow.

Here’s what I want you to do. Yes, you. Pick a song. It can be anything really – just pick one that you feel like you can use as a guideline. If your song happens to be “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga or “Circus” by Britney Spears, then to each their own. The only rule is that you pick a song you feel like you can live by – then do it.

I’ve got my goal for the summer. It may all go awry, but even then, I will learn something. All I know is this summer I’m going to do everything with the words of Simon and Garfunkel ringing through my head: “I’ve gone to look for America.”

Contact all reporter Nicole Aikens at [email protected].