Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Decision... (Part 3)

As I write this, I can't help but feel that I have inadvertently misled my readers in the name of this short series of posts. The "decision" I referred to in the title was not so much a decision I had made, but rather a decision to be made. I am no more sure of what I'm doing here now than I was on that day that I first walked into Ventero, or even the day that I left my dear friends' home in Missouri and hit the road.

Also, I must apologize for the tardiness of this post. My intention wasn't to string everyone along and keep everyone on the edge of their seats as to what happens next. To be honest, the reason this post is so late is because part 2 was really the end of the story as I was planning on telling it, but it is far from complete. I was honestly hoping to have come to some decision by the time I hit part 3 so I could tell everyone my plan. As mentioned though, I still don't have a plan, so in lieu of that I'll jump ahead a while and let you fill in the blanks.

I am laying on the couch in the same room of the inn that was offered me that night 2 weeks ago to the day. It's very hard to believe it's been two weeks, really, the time has absolutely flown by. I have already checked the dates twice, and unless the beer by my side has been spiked, the numbers seem to add up.

Last week, Randy had asked me if I had ever chopped wood. "Not because I'm asking you to chop wood for me, but I've found that you city folk seem to enjoy it," he quickly added. I told him I would love to give it a try, and a couple of minutes later I was getting a lesson in how to wield a splitting maul. Pulling a rather large chunk of wood from the second large pile by the side of the inn, Randy explained the intricacies of selecting an easily-split log.

"You see this crack here?" he asked, pointing to a thin split in the top of the log. "That shows you that it's probably dry enough to split, and it also shows you where the weakest part of the wood is. You have to take advantage of those natural weaknesses. Now watch this."

He grabbed the maul and held it, his right hand towards the bottom of the handle, and his left just below the sharp wedge at the top. He looked at the log, paused for a second, then swung the weapon up and back behind him.

"FUCK YOU, LOG," he shouted as his feet came off the ground. The head of the maul came crashing down dead center into the wood. I could not help but laugh at the sudden outburst, and he turned and laughed with me. "It's great for letting out some frustration," he said.

A few more of those deft blows (minus the comedic cussing), and the rather intimidating log was split in two, then four. The chunks were now small enough to fit into the wood stove that is used to heat the main section of the inn.

Before long, I was wielding the maul and hacking away at the logs myself. In the time since, I have been quite enjoying my daily wood-splitting hobby. As violent as the task would seem, there is something very peaceful about swinging that maul in the cool valley air, surrounded by mountains. My hands are currently blistered as I type, with a layer of skin torn off in some places due to my eagerness in splitting a couple of particularly stubborn logs. For all my discomfort though, I have something to show. There is now about a 4 day surplus of firewood for the stove sitting by the wall on the north side of the inn, and the pile is growing by the day. I have something real to show for my work. Not something intangible, not a difference in which pixels are blackened on my monitor when I visit my banking website, but wood that will provide heat to keep the place warm.

I think this is the draw to this place, this life. It's not about your bank account, or your home, or who you know. The median household income out here is $14,000... enough to get by. Most still live in small but nice adobe homes. And as for who you know, everyone knows everyone else, so that's not an issue. This valley is not about living a life of excess, it's simply about living life. The vegetables at the store on Main St. are grown by local farmers. The beef at that store was likely born, raised, and killed all within 5 miles of the place. The wood I have been chopping was brought here by a local kid who has started his own little delivery business.

That kid is not sat at home, playing his Xbox, bitching because mom is telling him to tidy his room. No, he's out on the property with a chainsaw, pulling down and trimming and chopping trees so he can earn his way in the world.

Anyway, I think I am digressing... I'm not sure, actually. Maybe this was the whole reason for this roadtrip, to find this place. It is, after all, the antithesis of the things that drove me to drop everything and hit the road in the first place. Hmm...

Today was also my second shift at Ventero, my first being a few days ago. The decision to volunteer there was an easy one, considering the cause it stands for. I have, however, tried to be clear to Randall and Jeremy that I have no idea how long I will be here to help out. It's difficult to show such indecision though, after giving Randy a month's rent in advance.

We had been hiking one of the mesas in the middle of the valley, looking for garnets. The previous night, a close friend of Randy's (and a great contributor towards Ventero), Jan, had visited and told us over dinner that some old geological reports from the 60s had shown that a couple of dikes halfway up the mesa had garnets throughout them. Our gem-hunt was in vain, but it did not stop us from enjoying a good 1500 foot ascent to the top of the mesa. On the way back to the inn, we had been talking about my options. As he got out of the truck to fill up on gas, I handed him $200. He did not ask for it. In fact he seemed shocked, asking me "are you sure?", as if I had made some sort of decision that I may need to think over some more. I had not really made a decision, except that I should probably give him some rent just in case I did end up staying. Even if I left, I am sure the money would have gone to buying art or coffee supplies for Ventero anyway, which I was fine with too.

Be things as they are though, I did not leave. I'm not entirely sure why I'm still here, but I am. That seems to be the way with this place. No less than 4 people I have spoken to have stories eerily similar to mine, one of which was a hitchhiker I picked up on the way to Ventero today.

"So what brought you to the valley?" I asked him.

"I don't really know," was his reply. "I was only supposed to visit here from Santa Fe, and, I guess I just never left. I've been here for about a year now."

Another was Bill, the man who donates his sound system to the coffee shop once a month for open mic night, though his story had a more religious overtone. "My wife and I came out here to look at a property," Bill explained. "We were at the place, and we both heard it. God spoke to us and told us that this is where we belonged."

Now, I didn't hear the voice of God (nor any other voice for that matter) but something is keeping me here. I have no idea how long this nebulous force will continue to keep a hold of me. For all I know, by noon tomorrow I could be packed up in the Honda Civic and on the road once again. Or, other than visiting with friends and family over the next few months, this could well be the place that I call home from now on.

A friend recently asked me, "are you happy?". The obvious answer was yes. "Then why would you consider leaving?" she inquired. I had no good answer. I guess I'll leave when I become unhappy. It may be a while.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Decision... (Part 2)

(Well it's late and I must rise early in the morning, but I had promised a post today, so here it is...)

I had been at the coffee shop known as Ventero for a few hours, and had met a lot of characters from the community already, as well as the other volunteer named Jeremy. I spent the early afternoon talking to Randy and Jeremy about the town, the people, and the not-for-profit organization. In talking to Randy, he mentioned a morada project that they were planning. Right around that time, a weathered old hispanic man walked in and headed over to speak with Randy. I was briefly introduced to Jimmy before they got to talking about an old press that was being donated to the cause, which was to be put in the morada to either be used or sold to support the store (the owner didn't care what happened to it, he just wanted to be rid of it). Jimmy left to go pick it up, and Randy asked if I minded helping out unloading it so I could go see the building.

An hour later, I found myself stood outside a run-down old adobe building, helping unload the huge bulky old printing press from Jimmy's trailer. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite what they expected, so Francis' husband (you remember Francis, right? The lady behind the counter at the coffee shop) took it away on what was affectionately known as the San Luis Forklift, a tiny Caterpillar skid steer loader, and put it in his scrap heap. Making the best of a bad situation, Randy decided to show me around. Unfortunately, he had lost the key to the padlocked morada door that afternoon, so we had to climb through a broken glass window to get in.

Now, a little explaining. A morada is a small chapel of the Hispanic Penitentes. They were used for services, social gatherings, and back-room meetings between the fraternal brothers while the women cooked. At the front of one part of the L shaped building was an altar. There were very few windows, and the ones they had were small and shuttered, hinting towards the slightly shadowy nature of the brotherhood. The adobe walls cracking, and some parts of the structure had collapsed completely. There was dust in the air and dirt covering the old floorboards, but it was beautiful.

The project revolved around creating a not-for-profit cultural center there. It was to be completely renovated, and set up to be a place for people to go to learn all about the old crafts, weaving, cooking, pottery and the like. The aim was to teach children (and again, adults) not only how to create these items and cook this food, but also learn about the history, the culture, the heart of San Luis. The renovated morada would also double as a studio for the students there to display and sell their work, and also a gathering place for community events. I began to see the vision.

I hope to sit down and have a good chat with Jimmy about what happened to this town some time soon and take notes. I'm told that he is the authority on San Luis's history. Just tonight, in fact, it was joked that Jimmy came here with the conquistadors. For now though, I will just say that to drive around the valley, it's obvious that the place used to be a great deal more popular and wealthy. Somewhere along the line businesses left, taking jobs, money, and people with it. There are abandoned buildings throughout San Luis, and just outside of town, one cannot count the amount of abandoned adobe houses, some of which have literally and completely collapsed. This place has seen much better days, but now, with the help of a few people who have a vision and a little passion, one can feel something of a hope. It can be seen in the eyes of old Jimmy. He's seen the best of times here and the worst of times, and his willingness to help shows ever so clearly that he knows he is helping to rebuild this community he so loves.

"This community"... It's not every day one talks about community in any sense other than racial or religious, i.e. "the black community", or "the mormon community", but in my short stay here, I have firmly come to believe that the San Luis valley's community, while poor in financial terms, is rich in spirit. Everyone I have spoken to has a story, a service to offer, a kind word, or a listening ear. I have met and spoken to many people here already, and I don't think I have met a single forgettable person. Many have told me with a genuine smile: "Well if there's anything you need, anything I can do, let me know!"

I'll take this opportunity to get back to the story at hand. We left the morada and headed back to Ventero to hang out for a while longer. Just before the store closed, Jeremy turned up with a 6 pack of beer and asked if I'd like to stay and celebrate St. Patrick's day with them. We sat around the closed coffee shop and chatted over beer. The time eventually came when the bottles were dry, and Randy insisted that I stay in one of the rooms at his inn for the night. I accepted the kind offer, and he ran over to the store to grab some food for an evening meal. Soon we were speeding down the road towards New Mexico, him in his powerful 4x4, and me in my '93 Honda Civic, struggling to keep up. We turned left towards the mountains about a mile after hitting NM, taking us into a beautiful valley. The road wound around the north side of the valley, overlooking the whole place, while gently descending towards the valley floor. After a few miles of this stunning view, we pulled into the parking lot of the inn, a wooden-clad building on the valley floor. As I got out of my vehicle, I could hear the nearby stream rushing, the air was crisp, and the view of the snow-topped terrain all around was tremendous.

Randy gave me a tour of the room I was to take for the night, and we headed to his apartment above the inn. I cooked the meal we were to eat, and we sat and discussed San Luis and Ventero some more over dinner. Finally, exhausted from a full day, I headed to my room and slept like a log. I had very strange dreams that night.

***** I hate to do this to you all again, but I think I'll have to leave it here for tonight as I will need to be up early tomorrow for something of a treasure hunt. I'm sure you all see where this whole "decision" thing may be headed... See you all tomorrow!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Decision...

Long post warning! It's only as long as required though, it's been an exceedingly strange week)

Well, I have posted to my blog once since starting the trip, and here I am making this post. I am currently laying in a studio apartment which sits atop an inn in a small valley-floor town called Amalia, in New Mexico. I'm quite confused by what has happened in the past few days, and I'm really trying to make sense of it all. This is, in fact, the reason it's taken me so long to write this post... I had been waiting to have it all figured out before I went spouting philosophical at the keyboard. Unfortunately, though, it seems I'm going to be confused for some time, so I figure I may as well at least tell everyone what's going on with me.

On Tuesday, I left Denver and headed to see my property in a town called San Luis, close to the New Mexico border of Colorado. I had left at around 1pm and headed south. After a couple of stops for food and checking my oil, I arrived in San Luis at around 6pm, leaving me an hour to find my property and get set up for the night. I headed down the highway, traversed the dirt roads and found my little bit of scrub just south of town. I had two neighbors in the subdivision, both quite far away, and the only two neighbors in a good few miles.

I pulled my car onto the property, got out, and had a small wander around before the sunlight started failing and the chilling 8000ft cold started setting in. The gas stove I had purchased in Denver treated me well that night, allowing me a warm meal of beans, jerky, and bread, and a hot cup of tea before settling in to the back seat of my car for the night. I read for a while, looked at the stars, played some music, and got myself comfortable and warm, finally drifting off at around midnight.

After an uneasy night of sleep, I awoke at around 8am. As I waited for the interior of the car windows to defrost, I warmed the last of my beans, had another hot drink, and took a very small nap on the hood of my car. The car was finally defrosted, and I decided to take a drive into town to see what the place was all about. I was driving back out of the subdivision when I looked over and saw the sheriff's vehicle in his driveway.

"Ooops," I said to myself.

I arrived back in town and decided to find a place with an internet connection so I could let everyone know I was safe. The first place I happened upon was a small coffee shop in the middle of Main St.. I parked my car around the corner, and walked in.

The lady behind the counter gave me a big smile as she waited for me to pick my poison. I think I settled on an English breakfast tea of some sort. As she poured me the water for my tea, I glanced around the place, and noticed that there was what seemed to be an art workshop consuming the back half of the building. I asked her about it, and she told me I should talk to Randy. I thanked her, and took a seat on the couch, pulling out my laptop and getting busy updating my friends on my status. As I sat there, I saw three middle-aged men sitting around a table, and I overheard their conversation, which surprisingly revolved around their artwork.

"You see, when I'm painting, I'm putting everything into it, you know?" said one of them.

"Yeah, you can't be half-assed about it. That's what really makes an artist. Art isn't about the painting, it's about the painter," responded the other.

This might not have been so surprising if it had been a few trendy, bohemian looking kids in some artsy college town. As it was though, these were 30-something year olds chatting in a town with a population of about 700. The town is tiny and rundown, and placed in the middle of the mountains. Main St. consisted of about 10 (functional) businesses total.

As I was being nosey, the nice lady behind the counter caught my attention and pointed at the man I hadn't seen approach.

"This is Randy," she told me. I stood and shook his hand, introducing myself briefly. He greeted me enthusiastically, and promptly took me on a tour of the art facilities they had, showing me printing presses, drying racks, and etching chemicals, among other impressive artsy thingamahoozits. It turns out the coffee shop was actually a not-for-profit art workshop in disguise. I learned that Randy had started the place about 3 years ago to raise money and provide a place to teach kids (and adults) about art and how to paint.

As we chatted, the inevitable question came up. Why was I here? I explained that I had bought some property here a year ago and wanted to see it just once on the roadtrip, and told him where it was. The lady behind the counter, who I came to know as Francis, heard this.

"Ah, over by Cooper's place," she told me. "The sheriff. You'll probably meet him here today. He comes in every day around noon. Should be here soon, in fact." This prediction came true shortly thereafter, when a large man with an impressive moustache walked in wearing a sheriff's uniform. Francis introduced me to him and we made small talk for a couple of minutes before I left him to his noontime coffee, returning to talk to Randy. I later met my other neighbor there, too, but I unfortunately forgot his name.

In the space of about an hour, I had met my only two neighbors for miles. I came to find that this was somewhat typical of this town, having since met damn near half the town's population in just a couple of days. It's a very strange feeling, having lived in the faceless suburbs for almost all my life, where you can spend a week in any one place and only see a face or two that you recognize. In searching for the word to describe it, I settled on "community", something that became ever more important in the hours and days following.

********** Actually, I think I'm going to finish this right here for the night, if only to give you a break from reading... there is a lot more story to go, yet. I'll make another post tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Midnight Trip Through the Rockies

Last night was a good night. I believe this is the first blog post since I started on the trip proper, so a little catching up. So far, I've stopped with a friend in Lawrence KS, camped out in Oakley KS, and now I'm in Aurora CO, visiting with my friend Dom.

My first day here was interesting, which I maintain was the fault of the bartender who was giving me 20oz beers instead of 12oz beers without my knowledge while I was waiting for my gracious host to get off of work. Yesterday was a bit more relaxed, though.

We had decided we should hit up a couple of the English bars on the strip here in Aurora for some Guinness. Unfortunately, both places we went to were out of Guinness and only had Murphy's stout on tap, but the second place did have full English breakfasts on the menu. After one or two beers (Dominick only had one, as he was driving) and a good meal, we decided to go for a drive through the mountains to find an overlook out over the city. We hit the road, stopping only for gas, beer, and cigarettes.

We talked, waxed philosophical, and laughed as Dominick deftly wound his way around the crazy roads that follow the topology of the mountains. We were sure we were heading in the general right direction, but not so sure as to exactly where we could find a lookout. Fortunately, we stumbled across a small road named "Lookout Mountain", and decided that we should trust our forefathers' judgments, which turned out well. We came across a small outcrop that looked promising. After grabbing a couple of beers from the pack that we had just bought, we went to take a look, and were greeted with a simply magnificent view of the city lights sprawled across the landscape. We were just able to make out the lines of the main streets, and the dark area where there was a small mountain or large park. After a short cliche but obligatory "It just makes you realize how small you really are" conversation, we decided that it was fucking cold and windy, and headed back to the car, hitting the road once again.

We really didn't know well where we were going, other than having a vague idea of some local attraction we wanted to head towards. This point was moot anyway, as it was pitch black and no matter where we went we wouldn't have been able to see a damn thing anyway. We knew that, and were fine with it, it wasn't about the destination, it was about the drive.

We continued to wind through the mountains, Dominick keeping us on the road, me slowly drinking my beer, both of us enjoying good conversation. I ended up needing to use the restroom when we were close to a biker bar that Dominick had pointed out earlier. Unfortunately the place was closed, so they missed out on the sale of a beer or two, but that building did gain the proud distinction of being pissed upon by the world's newest vagabond.

We headed home in short order, stopping for a midnight fast food meal. We watched about a quarter of No Country For Old Men before both needing to pass out after a long day.

Aimless driving is a favorite pastime of mine, aimless driving with a close friend is all the better. This is why I'm on the road, times like this, moments shared with friends.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Podunk Bar Beckoned

Today had the first rumblings of what I hope the rest of my trip will entail. I awoke late and took my car in to the repair place for one last time. As my ex-wife was off today, I had made plans to have lunch with her before I leave. After being completely forgotten about by the car rental company's pickup service, I finally called back, got the car and headed out to my old town, to quell my craving for a Brewskies Special at the local restaurant.

After a very pleasant lunch, and a Guinness, I decided that it was a nice day for a nap in the park. One nap later, I headed out to Washington (Missouri) to do something I had wanted to for years. Back when I lived in a nearby town, I would regularly drive to a tiny airport on the outskirts of Washington to watch the small planes come in and go out. On the way to that airport, I would pass a small bar on the side of the road, and I promised myself each time that one day I'd go to that bar. Well, I was in Warrenton, it was a nice day, and this may have been the last chance I had to go there.

As far as road-side bars go, this one was rather typical. Gravel parking lot open to the highway, various Budweiser and Coors Lite neon signs in the windows, you wouldn't be surprised if they also sold worms. That kind of place. I don't know what the draw was to this particular place, but off I went. I pulled into the parking lot, and went inside. There were two old men sat at the bar, and a lady. I took my seat and scanned for the bartender, who promptly stood up from her barstool and walked around the other side of the bar. "Can I get you something?" she asked.

I confirmed my suspicions with her that all they had in the way of beer was Budweiser and Coors products. I opted for a Bud. A short way down the bar, I overheard the two old men talking about how Old Willis had crashed his car in a ditch, and how all you could see of the car from the highway was the rear bumper. For you concerned readers, Old Willis was just fine after the incident.

One of the old men left shortly thereafter, leaving me and the other guy at the bar with the bartender. We all awkwardly started to watch some movie on TV with Gene Hackman in it. The lady behind the bar took the remote and turned the volume up. After a little conversation about what was happening in the movie, I struck up a conversation with the old man. We sat and conversed over the last of my beer and a glass of water. I told him why I was at the bar today, that I was leaving on some travels, and he gave me some great recommendations of things to do in the northwest. I learned of how, during a flood about 15 years ago in Washington, "a railroad tie came right through that window, (pointing to a window on the far side of the room) and went out through that window (pointing to the opposite window)". He told me about his vegetable garden, and how his beefsteak tomatoes kept growing so big their skins burst. They asked me the inevitable question of how a Brit finds himself in a small bar in Nowheresville, MO. We had good conversation, nowhere to be, and nothing to do but sit, have a cigarette, and talk.

I hope I continue to have experiences like this. It's good to meet real people.

To My Friends

"Thanks for allowing me the use of your couch, guys," I said as Crystal and Jeremy went off to bed tonight.

Crystal looked over at me and gave me a wry look. "You're more than welcome, you know that," she said. "Don't be such a fag."

"I'm being nice," was my defense. "I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate it. Don't be so cunty." It's just the way we talk to each other. "Goodnight."



I decided not to leave until March 8th because I wanted to spend some time with local friends before going off on my trip, as I'm not sure I'll be back in town for a while after this whole thing seeing as I am moving back to England for a while. I had been worried that I would outstay my welcome... but that worry seems to have been completely unnecessary.

I find myself taking calls from each of my friends in turn, asking me to come over that day and spend another night on their couches, or confirming that they have me on a certain day. It turns out that I have the very best friends in the world. As I have noted previously, it makes me very uncomfortable to ask a favor of anyone, and was worried I would start to feel that "guilt" creep in. So far, another issue that proved unnecessary, as I don't actually have to ask anyone. It's all kind of thrust upon me.

So with that said, I just wanted to personally thank Chrisdro and the Blanke family for allowing me to stay with them, cook with them, and share some good times with them. Oh, and the use of a few square feet of your basement. I always look forward to seeing and spending time with you guys, always great times and laughs to be had. Oh yes and Chris, remember to feed the yeast, man.

Also, thanks to Crystal and Jeremy for the use of your couch, taking my server, and making sure I'm well fed. Seems not a minute goes by without Crystal offering me food of some sort, often accusing me of having "manorexia". It's been great hanging out with you guys, as it always is.

Tomorrow I'll be staying on Lauren's couch, after her checking if it's her day with me multiple times this week. I'm looking forward to spending some time hanging out with someone I don't know quite as well. Related: thanks to everyone who has offered to hook me up with friends and couches in various places on my travels. I look forward to meeting some trusted strangers.

Off for now, going to make one more post about my day, and then continue in my reading of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which Crystal insisted I take on my travels. Unfortunately, it seems I'll be done with it before I leave.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Plan

So, I am now out of my home. I no longer have a permanent place of residence. Since moving out, I have become vaguely aware that I'm actually going to do this. This is another post I'd been putting off because it somehow didn't seem real to me, but now that 50% of my possessions are in my car and I'm spending time on (rather insistent) friends couches I think I'm safe in saying that the scene is set quite well.

With that realization, I decided to actually post my tentative plans. I say tentative because I would like to go with the flow as much as possible, but I understand that having a vague plan would be a good idea. I'll be leaving on the journey on March 8th, heading west. Here are my intended destinations so far:

Lawrence, KS
Denver, CO
San Luis, CO
Grand Canyon, AZ
Las Vegas, NV
Somewhere in South Cali
Seattle, WA
Mount Rushmore, SD
Minneapolis, MS
Chicago, IL
Cincinnati, OH
Panama City, FL
Corpus Christi, TX
Austin, TX
Dallas, TX
Tulsa, OK

About 8500 miles round trip. I only hope that my car is up to the task... it hasn't been the most reliable, but it does now have a rebuilt engine. I'll pray to the Honda gods for a successful trip.

If you know anyone in or in between these cities who would welcome a beer with a friend of a friend, or even who might be so kind as to provide a couch to a transient for the night, be sure to have them get in touch with me. collapsedwavefunction@yahoo.com . Of course, if you are in one of these towns, also get in touch with me (yes, that means YOU).

Well I need to get going. I have to go get my car checked over again at 8am tomorrow. Yes, Honda gods, I have faith in you. I just don't trust you.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Living Consciously

This won't be a long post, just something I wanted to throw down on "paper".

Today I started packing, albeit a little late as I'm supposed to be out of this place tomorrow. Turns out my life fits into one small Uhaul box and one medium, excluding my clothes and paintings. I live this way for this very reason, I like to be able to get up and go at any time, but I digress.

As I've been packing away my stuff, I've come across a few things with memories attached, forcing me to remember the times I had forgotten. As I was packing my clothes into my "visiting people" luggage, I found that I was taking the time to smooth out the items.

This seems like such a small thing, but it made me realize the great change I've been through in the past two weeks since I quit my job. I'm taking the time to pay attention to what I'm doing. As I've been driving around taking care of my last business in town, I've noticed things about my city that I never did before. I'm spending time with people I haven't spoken to in a long time because I never had time while concentrating so much on my job. I'm actually living life.

It's funny, seeing life as though through new eyes. It makes me wonder why I allowed myself to sleep, to dream the Great American Dream for so long when the real world is so much more beautiful. Back to packing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On The Desire To Break Free

One of the things that has struck me as interesting since my decision to take this trip was the reaction I have received from my friends. I never realized just how many people want to do this very same thing. Almost every one of the people I have spoken to about this trip has said something along the lines of "I wish I could do that". Three separate people asked me to start this blog specifically so they could "live vicariously through me".

I wasn't quite ready for this reaction. In all honesty, I had quite expected everyone to call me a dumbass for quitting the nice job and giving up my place of residence, especially given the current economic climate. Not a single person has said a disparaging remark. It seems to me that everyone yearns to break free. Young and old, rich and poor, male and female.

This also played a part in my decision to use my pseudonym here, to write as John, everyman. I would love to inspire others to come to the realization that they can shrug off the chains and really live life, even if only for a while. Even couples and entire families can do this with a little more effort. http://www.vagabonding.net has some good testimonials from all sorts of people who have taken to the road in various ways.

Now some of you may be thinking "Well you haven't even started your road-trip yet, how can you say that anyone can do it?". This very question was the reason that I had not written this post until today. This evening, though, I realized that no matter what happens, I'm already successful. This isn't about how long I keep my foot on the gas pedal, nor how high I can drive my odometer. This is about breaking free, living the way I want to (at least for a while).

This endeavor has been successful since the day I took my first step on the road. I have no idea what this path holds in the future, but I look forward to finding out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Introduction May Be Necessary...

So most of the people who will ever see this site will already know me. However, I would like to think that maybe someone will one day, at 2am, stumble on this little blog, and I figure if that happens it might be nice for them to know who I am and what this is all about.

As of the time of writing, I am a 27 year old web-developer for a major investment firm. Tomorrow at 4:30pm, I will be a 27 year old unemployed man. My name is John. For those that do already know me (why are you reading this?) they will recognize that it isn't my real name, but more on that later.

Last Thursday, after a sleepless night, I decided to quit my job. It had been coming for a while, as I had felt the stress bubbling up ever so slowly over a period of two years. I had worked for this company for 7 years, but I had held a new position for the past two. I had always wanted a job in web development because it's something I'm rather good at. It's funny how those things happen, when you think you want something for so long, you get it, and a week later you realize that it wasn't at all what you wanted. That was me a month after landing this job. Sure, I was making decent money, but it lacked any kind of humanity, working for a faceless corporation. A month after I started I could already feel that it wasn't going to work. But I had wanted it for so long, I was in denial. I figured if I just stuck at it then I'd get used to it.

Fast forward two years, to 7am last Thursday, and that bubble popped. I feel starved of humanity, and I need to get it back. I need to see people, have new experiences, and take some time to see the world around me.

Right now, I have approximately an 8,500 mile roadtrip tentatively planned. I hope to be bouncing around between my dear friends' houses, hostels, sleeping in my car, and camping. I expect the trip to take about 45-60 days, depending on how many places I decide to stop at and how long.

As for my name, it's the name many people know me as on Facebook. I had originally signed up to Facebook under the name John Johnson to avoid the gaze of the human resources department's beady eyes. I decided to use it here because it's a very average name, and I want to show that anyone can do this (for reasons that I'll explain in a later blog entry).

Tomorrow, I'll be jobless. Next Sunday, I'll be homeless. I am wracked with fear and excitement. I think this is enough to tell you about myself for now. If you continue to follow the blog, then I'm sure you'll learn at lot more as you go.

( Friends and strangers both, if you would like me to visit you on my tour please email me at collapsedwavefunction@yahoo.com or leave a comment with your email address )