F*** Your Birthday Becca
Can I just say that this is the best birthday cake on this planet?
I kept my birthday to myself, but alas, they always discover.
Thank you to everyone who wished me well. It was nice to be able to talk to people on the phone. My phone actually died it was so exhausted. I realized that being a person with so many long-distance relationships, birthdays are a day to force people to stay on the phone as long as you want them to and to listen to you ramble about your ear wax issues.
The time leading up to my birthday is always the same, I never want to say anything or do anything. But, on the day, I am always reminded of how special that day really is and how special one feels.
The night leading into my birthday was a full moon. I was lucky enough to enjoy it with friends with a child-sized inter-tube around my waist and a sweet one-piece I found in a box. I felt so lucky to be alive and where I was. Me and Kaeleen sat in the hot tub for hours, talking about life and the fear of death. We talked about pure love and spirits and being able to say goodbye. I feel most lucky to have such a pure and perfect soul as a friend. I could write a love ballad right now, but i'll spare you.
It was Kay's coworker Ben's birthday. I didn't want to show up to his party on his special day and be like, "Oh hey, me too!" I hadn't said anything to anyone, so I figured no one knew. Half way through the night, Kaeleen whipsers, "I know it's your birthday." and then Taylor yells, "Happy Birthday, Becca!" The secret was out. It was officially a joint celebration.
On my actual birthday, I came home late to the apartment where Trey and Kay live and where me and Taylor are both staying. They were all lethargic and draped over furniture, watching something on PBS. We talked for a bit about the day and then Kay comes out of the kitchen with a cupcake cake, singing "happy birthday". My plans for no celebration were thwarted. The cake was hilarious (f*** our birthday Becca) and there was also a present and card. It was a really sweet (and hilarious) gesture by all of them. Apparently they tried to have the full word on the cake, but the baker refused.
Ultimately, I didn't want to do anything different for my birthday, because every day is a gift to me. I find myself happy doing what i'm already doing, so why change that?
But, I guess, what I realize now, is that you don't have to do anything. You don't even have to tell anyone. The day is still special and they will eventually find out and give you an embarrassing cake anyway, so you might as well tell them.
These pictures were taken on a hike around Lake Chabot, near San Leandro. The area was beautiful and seemed to be consumed by spiderwebs. They were everywhere - little cradles hanging on nearly everything. Me and Kay played around with my new camera. The shots of our feet are my favorite.
The lake has a strange blue-green algae which looked gross along the edges, but they are supposedly strict about kayaks and boats being brought in. You have to pass an inspection so as to not bring foreign algae in to the lake. There are bass and other fish in the lake that you can fish for and there were birthday parties, family reunions and children playing everywhere. That is definitely something I love about this area. Good hikes aren't a far drive, and there are lots of them. My favorite hiking spot is in Oakland, up by Skyline Drive. You can see all of the city, the boats leaving the port - Everything. It is only a 15 minute drive away from the city.
Kaeleen and I also went to the Oakland-Grand Lake Farmer's Market. I have never had so many free samples at one time, or possibly ever. Pomogranites, peaches, pasta, hummus, cheeses - Every booth was flagging potential mouths down. We stopped at one cheese booth and Kaeleen bought some of their blue cheese, which turns out, was voted best blue cheese in the country. It was packed and we spent a long time looking for parking in a nearby residential area. Turns out, everyone else had the same idea. We parked so far down, it took about 15 minutes to get out of the neighborhood. There were multiple kids selling lemonade in their yards. The houses were beautiful and when I saw a mailman, delivering mail to everyone's door, I had to take a picture. Oakland continues to surprise me with its diversity and richness. We stopped in a few shops and looked at precious stones. There were restaurants with outdoor seating everywhere, but we ducked into this little place called Grand Lake Kitchen and lucked out. We tried to sit outside but there was a wait. Instead of waiting, we posted up at the bar style eating area inside, right on the end. Our view were the cooks and preps, slicing carrots, peeling potatoes and chatting to each other. I ordered an Oakland I.P.A. called Drakes and the savory french toast. I felt quite fancy, enjoying my new city life.
There was a book store called Walden Books that does trades and such, but I had to pull myself away or I would have spent all day in there.
Oakland is diverse and lively. Tomorrow, I plan to hunt down a venue for me and my typewriter near Lake Merritt. I also have plans to see a movie called A Pigeon Sat on a Bench Reflecting on its Existence at the Roxy theater in San Francisco and to explore the San Francisco Public Library.
I have all the time in the world and it feels great.
This is why I travel. I tangle my physical body up with the world I have in my head. It perhaps feels something like if one were completely obsessed with chocolate and then BECAME CHOCOLATE. I become the thing that I love by being a part of it. I love the world. I love all of its quirks and strange people and architecture and smells and customs. I love the smell of Southeast Alaska just like I love the hairline fractures, sprouting flowers on the sidewalk in Rome. I love the little boy crying in Spanish and the taxi driver who tried to rip me off in Barcelona. I love the recognizable sound of the market in Seattle. I love the teenage girl in gold, walking down the street in Oakland, arguing with her mom on the phone. I love that I get to witness these moments and be a part of all of them, even the negative ones. I feel so unbelievably lucky to be alive and to be me and I CAN"T BELIEVE I AM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE REDWOOD FOREST WITH THESE BEAUTIFUL BEINGS THAT HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR ME. I cry right now thinking about it.
Traveling isn't glamorous. I don't talk about sleeping in rest stops, bum showering in a gas station bathrooms, getting lost and frustrated for it. It's not for everyone. But those inconveniences are nothing but that. They are just what I have to do if I want to live the way I want. Everyone has to be true to their nature and stay as close as humanly possible to what they love. Don't venture out too far in search of things you think will make you happy, like money or a relationship. If you aren't happy with yourself and the way you are living your life, you are wasting it. You don't have to do what I'm doing. You shouldn't. I shouldn't do things your way, either.
I sometimes wonder if other people feel the same way as I do about traveling and experiencing these things. I don't know, but I didn't see anyone else crying and smiling in the Avenue of Giants.
Sometimes, I wish I could find someone who is like me in this way. Sometimes, I wonder if there is anyone out there like me. I get discouraged about meeting that "right" person, because I feel so specialized . Sometimes, I feel like a cherry pit removing tool in a drawer full of spoons.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, I get to go to sleep knowing that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life. How many people can say that, every night? Nothing can beat that feeling, and nothing can take it away. It is the deepest, most invigorating emotion. It makes all the pain of uprooting my life and sacrificing a future with someone I loved, worth it. I am happy in a way that makes me feel guilty.
Do I deserve this?
I struggle with enjoying the moment. It's hard to turn my worrying brain off and take a look around. I have a lot of self-doubt, still. But, I am learning how to be healthy in my outside life so that my inside life, the one in my head, doesn't have any negative ammo to hurt me with. That deep feeling of contentment conquers those feelings of self-doubt and worry.
I finally feel like I am winning at a game I didn't even know how to play not too long ago.
I can still smell the bark and their leaves. I can still feel the coolness of their shadows and the warm slivers of sun slicing through the openings. I can feel the heavy presence of them, so confident and bewildering. I am still mesmerized by how dwarfed I felt. It was so quiet. I tip-toed around barefoot.
I am both a 25-year-old woman, standing in a forest, desperately trying to make sense of the world and her place in it,
and that baby
safe in my father's arms, sitting in that Previa van as it tinkers down the winding curve of California.
These things are both existing now, together.
I departed Midnight's Farm on Tuesday afternoon. It was bittersweet. I may have cried a little. Faith and David and the extended family of Midnight's left hand prints on my heart and I will always have a special place in my heart for them and my time there. Also, I accidentally left a chair Faith gave me, so I may need to go back.
The day before I left, the funniest thing happened, which I will use one day in my writing.
I was invited to a dinner at Laurie's house the previous night and stayed out late, chatting. When I made it home, I was dead-tired and forgot to close the chickens into their coop, which was my responsibility. At 6:55am the following morning, the rooster and his little minions climbed up the few stairs to my glass door, stared into my room and began to crow incessantly. This isn't the first time he has done this and I still can't figure out why when he has the ENTIRE PROPERTY to roam, he crowds the gang up on my 2 by 4 porch and holds an auction.
I woke up out of my deep sleep in a rage. I acted quickly and violently. Leaning over the bed, I grabbed my work boot with one hand, turned the door knob with the other. The door opened suddenly, to his surprise and I hurled my large brown boot directly at his vocal chord. The scene was similar to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the group of birds seemed to fly backwards in a single, squawking poof. The rooster, I was pleased to see, bore the brute force of a brute like me (Sylvia Plath reference).
In all actuality, it didn't hit him hard, losing momentum just inches before reaching his feet. It mostly just bounced into him. But it felt good. Without caring about the aftermath, I slammed the door back and rolled over, satisfied.
As I left for breakfast, I saw the shoe on the grass and figured I would grab it afterward, which I did. Breakfast was pleasant, as always, and me and Faith started our day feeding the pigs, working in the garden and helping clean up around the farm.
At lunch, David turned to me suddenly, with a sly grin on his face, and said something along the lines of, "So I noticed your boot was on the ground outside..." He knew. He knew I forgot to close the chickens in and now he knew I had suffered for it. He found this very amusing. I immediately admitted to the transgression and found it slightly funny that he had seen the shoe in the morning. All of the sudden, Faith's face lights up and tells this story that at first I didn't even realize was real.
"I was walking to yoga this morning (Around 7am everyday), and just as I was passing the barn, I heard the office door open really fast, Rebecca's boot come flying out, hitting the rooster, and then the door slam shut."
As she is talking, I think she is trying to re-enact the moment. She starts laughing and I realize she is telling the truth. This poor, wonderful human who loves animals, was peacefully walking to her morning yoga practice, when she sees the person she is hosting at her house hurl a shoe at her flock of chickens. I was mortified but couldn't stop laughing. I imagined the scene over and over in my head and it seemed funnier every time.
As we all laughed around the lunch table, I was so thankful that I had found people that understood me... or at least tolerated me with amused spirits. I'm forever amazed at how I got so lucky as to find them. Every day was filled with laughter and fulfilling work. The night before I left, I presented them with a poem titled, "Home" and a large piece of driftwood with "welcome" painted on it for their gate or yard.
I spent the night in Seattle, hanging out with Daniel. We sat at a beach for a while and watched all the groups of people converging around one another. There was an AA meeting, a birthday party and a small rave-like situation all happening in our view.
The next day, I left and drove to right outside of Eugene, OR. Before I made it, I scored a hefty speeding ticket. When I woke up the next morning, there was a Snapchat from Naomi, saying, "Don't forget to put oil in your car." I laughed out loud, because I had purchased oil the night before and needed to remember to put it in that morning. I don't know what I would do without her.
In Eugene, I posted something on Facebook and Malcolm, who rented my room out last summer when I was traveling messaged me. "I live in Eugene now!"
I hadn't planned to spend the day, so I asked if he wanted to meet up for food. He couldn't because he was going to an music audition, but recommended Glenwood restaurant. When I got there, the employees were so sweet and friendly. I ended up chatting with them about traveling and campers. I was fairly surprised by their friendliness and took it as a good indication of what Eugene was like. I had made arrangements to buy a Cannon Rebel digital camera from someone on CL, so I headed to the address. The roads were confusing and I ended up getting lost, taking a lot longer than I had planned. At this point it was almost 11:30 and I was feeling really anxious to get on the road if I was going to make it to San Fransisco that evening, an 8-9 hour drive. When I finally found the house, the seller was a very sweet, older asian man. He was very curious about my travels and where I was headed. He is from L.A. and when I told him that's where I was going, he said, "I think, by your personality, that Eugene would be a better fit for you."
I had been thinking in my head the entire drive that I felt this weird connection to Eugene. I hadn't experienced this before. When he said that to me, I was like "IT'S A SIGN!"
He gave me directions to the freeway and waved goodbye, enthusiastically, from his garage. Right then, I got a text from Malcolm, "Are you gone yet? I just finished." I wanted to stay, but felt like I couldn't. I already told my friend Kaeleen I would be there tonight. I texted back that I was gone.
As I merged onto the interstate, I felt my heart aching. I wanted to turn back. What if I'm supposed to be there today? What if I miss out on something? What if I'm meant to be there? All these weird superstitious questions were consuming me. About 15 miles down the interstate, I remembered the horse in the field - The feeling I got to turn around. I never would have had that experience if I hadn't listened to that feeling. I swerved to the right lane, emotions running rampant through my body and swung back onto the Interstate, going North to Eugene, OR.
For some reason, I started laughing out loud, to myself, alone. "What the hell, Rebecca."
I texted Malcolm and told him I was staying. He didn't ask any questions.
We ended up riding our bikes up and down the river. We have hardly spent any time together, maybe once or twice. And here we were, both outside of Alaska, trying to navigate this strange city. He recited his poetry out loud and told me of his Origami poem project in Seattle, where he left 70 origami poems around the city. People actually contacted him to thank him. We laid around the shade of a rose garden and debated global warming, Tinder dates, cringe-worthy subjects and people in India, who drink the urine and feces of cows for its "medical benefits." We took selfies and sent them to our mutual friends. It was the best day I've had in a while.
I must have laughed non-stop for hours. I still wanted to drive a bit that day, so he dropped me off at my car, helped me get my bike back on and we parted ways.
Turning around was definitely the right decision. I spent my evening driving to Redding, CA.
As I pulled away from Eugene and back onto the interstate, I recieved an email from the manager of a bar in Portland. I have been sending out emails in hopes of being booked somewhere to do my instant poetry. He said he would love to work something out when I come back through in November. "Let's make this happen." Were his exact words.
I felt like I had been rewarded by the universe. I couldn't believe someone wanted to book PoembyBecca. I felt the possibilities open up for the future. I didn't even think I was going to get ANY responses. I just thought I would try.
Today I woke up and cut west. I am getting ready to pass through the redwood forests and could not be more excited. Tonight, I'll be in San Leandro with Kaeleen, who I love to death and can't wait to hug.
I wouldn't recommend always following one's feelings. I'm just saying it's worked for me.
My dreams have been continuing. Every night, a new tragedy involving the men that I have loved and calm, scenes of death. The scenes are grotesque, morbid moments in brief visions. The mornings are spent, lying in bed, remembering the faces.
My friend Eran told me today, he doesn't think it is healthy. I disagree. I desire the abnormal. I believe in what dreams may show you, sometimes forcibly. I believe that nothing is wasted on a good creative mind. As confused and affected by my night time visions, in a way, I am thankful. I don't understand but I want to.
Morbid, frighteningly flesh-evolved, primal: Can this be romance? Is there such a connection between horror and sexuality? In my dreams, I feel my mind exploring these connections. Perhaps, for some people, these two are entangled, intertwined beyond emotional recognition. Am I one of them?
I dreamt in Spanish last night. I impressed myself. I remember perfectly that everything that was said in the dream made sense and came from my own memory.
My mom has always told me that I am hypersensitive. I want to believe that my brain is just exploring, much like my physical being. Alex, who works at Midnight's Farm thinks that I am sleeping on an energy line. My mom thinks my demons are coming out. Eran says he's worried. Naomi wants me to write a poem.
I don't know what I want. I feel heavy, carrying these dreams around with me. I need to twist them up and turn them into a balloon animal. I want to sleep. I want to hear what my brain is trying to tell me. I want to better understand myself through this experience. Most of all, I want to understand them. There is beauty there, in the madness- the gore of emotions.
His bloody face. The old man's grin. The way I let him lift me. The pile of bodies on my front porch.
The biggest mistake an artist can make is to be afraid of themselves.
Genius comes from an unknown place.
I am not afraid.
I picked up two new books today from the library. I finished The Good Shufu, and wanted to use my library card as much as possible before my departure. The Good Shufu wasn't anything mind-blowing, from a writer's perspective, but I found the transition from American culture to Japanese fascinating. Thunderstruck by Elizabeth McCracken and Just Kids by Patti Smith were my choices today. I read the first page of Just Kids and got chills up my spine. I feel like a nerd, but I'm so excited to read these! I usually go to bed around 8:30 or 9pm and like to read for about an hour and a half before falling asleep. I started We Were the MulVaney's by Joyce Carol Oates, but since I own that one, I can take it with me.
My drawing instructor Perrin, has spent time on Lopez Island. She recommended I go out to Iceberg Point, her favorite place. To get to the secret cove wasn't easy she explained. "It's kinda a scramble down a bluff trail", but I've learned that if someone recommends a spot to you, you go.
It proved difficult early on from the road. The area had signs saying it was private and no access. I drove around for a while before parking and deciding to take it on, on foot. The signs were super small, written on driftwood and I couldn't tell where they were pointing. Turns out, I had to enter a residential drive that was blocked off. "This is going to be good" I thought to myself.
And it was. A ten minute hike through the forest lead me, finally, into the openness of the seaside cliffs. I don't know if I will have the chance to return there before I leave on Tuesday, but I hope one day, I can take someone there and share in it's beauty. This area was vastly different than the rain-forest inland. I've never been to New England, but it reminded me of images I've seen. When I got down deep into the cliffs and tide pools, I discovered aquatic life I have only witnessed at the Seattle Aquarium. The rocks were thin and it was like walking on the edges of plates. They were spotted in bird poop and feathers. There were huge collections of petrified wood at the base of cliffs, in grooved pockets.
The trail leading out was packed with ferns, lichen, moss, fir trees, mushrooms, nurse logs and the closer I got to the water, gray rocks began to pop out of the ground, drenched in moss. Last night, I started my book on identifying plants, rocks and wildlife of the pacific northwest, so today, I found myself being able to identify some of the scenery. The tripinnate, tapered edges of lady ferns, European beachgrass, red huckleberry, salal shrub, candy cap mushrooms, Douglas fir, usnea moss, quack grass, nursery logs, some type of wren flying above. I struggled without my book but enjoyed the quiz. I identified the thin, papery leaves as needing large quantities of moisture and then, down in the tide pools, the Dall's acorn barnacles, edible mussels (actual name), and aggregating anemones captivated me with their sticky grips.
Faith tells me that Iceberg Point is home to species of plants that can't be found anywhere else. I believe this. There were several trees, plants and mosses that I could not find in my books and properly identify.
I saw one lone seal swimming along the coast and the bull seaweed resembled dead alligators, drifting singularly out in the small waves.
When I reached the cove, it was a beach of the most smooth, beautiful skipping rocks. The millions of them cradled totem sized, smoothed out trees that created stadium seating for the beach. I collected several rocks and some petrified wood. I plan on writing a poem on the larger piece and giving it to David and Faith. The trees buried half-hazardly beneath the moon stones looked like fallen elephants.
My brain was working at full speed and I quickly typed out a poem that I will address later.
I found one lone Nike (new) shoe on the edge of the cove. I hate to admit it, but that was the most fascinating item throughout the day. I couldn't figure out how it ended up there all alone. I wish I could have come upon me as a stranger, sitting alone on a beautiful beach, staring at a shoe.
Lopez Island is continually surprising me. I never would have guessed it's southern coast would look that way. It is so untouched and pristine. Even the houses seem to be living long, healthy lives. No new mansions. No tourist obsessive economy. It made me sad for my hometown, which was once like Lopez. I watched as a young child, as the island economy began to twist and turn outward, failing to look and admire inwardly, what had made it so desirable in the first place
I hope that Lopez never changes. I hope I have the opportunity to bring someone I love here, one day, and recognize the things I have grown to love - the hidden coves, the wild rabbits, the endless farms and wild apple trees, the way everyone I drive past waves to me. I truly and deeply love this place. I feel a little guilty sharing it here.
So don't say anything.
It's 9:05pm. I still have pig drool on my wrist. It's been there since 3:30pm. I've tried to wipe it off on numerous occasions. I even scratched it underneath water, briefly. I don't know why, but it doesn't bother me at all.
I made a fruit crisp with it on there. I ate dinner with it on there. I sat around a dinner table, listening to people around me discuss religion and family, while my hand delicately held my chin in contemplation, all with pig drool crusted black on my wrist. It's there right now. I'm in bed.
The last wash my hair had was a rinse under the outside hose, no shampoo. The small patches of hair all over my body is beginning to stand out like ants on a patch of ice. My version of makeup is rinsing my eyes with water in the morning. I think as a woman, it's safe to say, just one of these things could make a girl feel like a monster under the right circumstances. But, I feel beautiful. The smoke from the fire followed me all evening, so I know it's true. A woman who had been a stranger just a couple hours before and someone I came to admire throughout the evening, kissed my cheek during our departure and told me, “You're amazing.” I feel solid. I feel that I always say what I'm feeling, so I'll simply state: today was a good day.
Last night I had a nightmare that seemed to last for hours. I dreamt that the person I had been dating before I moved was trying to kill me. We were only seeing each other for a couple months and still talk, so it didn't make sense that I would imagine him in SUCH a negative light. I mean, a murderer. I hope he doesn't read this, because I am not telling. But, him and this blonde bodacious woman he worked for had it out for me, in the dream. I was shopping in her store and my nice, camera went missing (a camera I don't own, but have always wanted). I knew she took it, but she denied it. I demanded they show me the entire store, back area and all. Suddenly, there were all these other employees that seemed more like circus freaks. There was an overwhelming ominous sense. I knew I was in a nightmare.
You can feel a nightmare. The plots don't usually make sense and are laughable in context. But, no matter what it is, it's the worst feeling you've ever felt and it doesn't go away. In the dream, I left, but knew what was going to happen. They showed up where I was, kidnapped me and proceeded to torture and mock me for what felt like an eternity. It seems like things lag on in my dreams, because I'm trying to work them out. I try to solve whatever is happening and time allows me to practice.
I tried pleading with him, the guy that I knew (and that I feel terrible about painting in this light). I tried escaping in many different ways. Nothing was working. They were punishing me for hurting him. At least that's what I think. They all hated me and I was definitely going to pay...for making them look for my camera?
In reality, I had hurt him a bit, emotionally, and which I perhaps still feel bad about. I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend time with someone, no matter how much I like them. I had ended a relationship and was preparing to move. Practically, it wasn't a good idea. So, on two different occasions, I told him I didn't want to hang out anymore. He always accepted this, very maturely and never tried to change my mind. And every single time, I immediately knew I made the wrong decision and that it was based out of fear and not from the place of independence and self-sustainability, like I had thought. Luckily, he was more emotionally mature than me, cared for me and understood what I was feeling to forgive and forget. We are on great terms. I shouldn't be beating myself up about it. But I am, at least unconsciously.
In my dream world, the evil seems to come out. It interacts with my fears, mistakes and personal surroundings. This makes for some troubling visions I try to forget. I always remember my dreams. I dream every night. This world both frightens and confounds me. I am riveted by the universe my brain creates without my permission, and I have come to accept and relax in the face of some of the more disturbing experiences, kind of. They still get to me sometimes. But, I've spent years dealing with them. Back when I was a pre-teen. I would wake up balling. I would think the nightmare would happen for real. I would believe I had a demon in me. I couldn't find the strength, objectivity reasoning or distraction to get over them. I thought they were visions from God, or Satan and I was supposed to head them, whatever that means.
I think my dreams are a place where the part of me I am running from is free to come out. It's like it gets let off of it's leash at night and terrorizes the town until it falls asleep, car tire in its mouth. The self-hating, insecure side that would have me feel guilty about everything I've done wrong, forever, this guy. I would feel the emotional residue from the night before, all day. The guilt, the rawness of it all, The search for meaning haunted me after a nightmare like this. You know what I felt today? Great. A little tired, but overall, not bothered much. I think I've figured this thing out.
I think living a life during the day that you are happy with is just as important as eating healthy and being active. You are less prone to get sick, physically and emotionally. You don't let things run you down. You move on. As I lay in bed now, I realize that I don't know if my nightmares and night terrors will subside in time. I can't say for sure. I hope that the monster dies due to lack of attention and food. But, what I can do and what I can say definitively is that I will keep myself healthy and happy so that if and when they do happen, I can wipe the emotional residue off and go about my day, unlike this pig drool...
Today I worked with Faith. I think I will probably be working with her full-time. I ran into Alex and his girlfriend Michelle after breakfast. We were talking about the drive to Alaska, when I saw Faith carting a wheelbarrow up towards the composting work area. I knew she was about to feed the pigs and I wanted to join. I chased after her, thinking I could catch her and surprise her, but about the time I came within throwing distance, I huffed out her name and made her wait for me.
They plan to slaughter the pigs in a month. They are huge, and a little frightening when they are hungry. She explained the feeding process and a little of the composting process that David does. People on the island drop off yard waste and wood waste and he composts them and sells for profit. There are truckloads of compost passing the barn and heading up the road throughout the day.
I didn't really know what the plan was today, or if there was one, so I just made myself useful to Faith. I also don't know how to do anything or where anything is. We moved the electric fence from where the cows were grazing, to where they would be grazing. This meant that Faith rolled up the wire and I pulled out all the stakes and then reversed places and did it in opposite order. Make sense? It was interesting to learn about the knowledge one needs to have about grass in order to graze cows properly. Having them graze on grass when it is in a particular stage of growth is the key. It was also nice to stroll around the property. Faith says she likes that about this particular job, too.
I took a lunch and made some food in the outside kitchen for WWOOF'ers. I sat in the whicker chair, overlooking the pasture and read the book I got from the local library, while eating. It's called The Good Shufu. When I read the review that related it to Eat, Pray, Love “rewritten by Woody Allen,” I grabbed it and headed for the counter.
The rest of the day, we worked around the garden. We harvested tomatoes and baked them throughout the day in the leftover heat of the brick over used for the bakery. We weeded and rolled up some of the hoses for irrigation. The season is nearly over and everything is offering up the last of it's harvest. We collected cucumber, onions and peppers during that time and Lucy, the golden lab kept dropping her tennis ball in the dirt in front of me for me to throw it. After a while, the ball was a goopy, brown thing in my hand and I felt bad making her put it in her mouth.
Nikita had mentioned to me at Yoga class that the outhouse behind the studio needed some “TLC”. I figured since she was allowing me to take her class for no charge, the least I could do was to grant her whatever she wanted. So, I spent some time cleaning that.
I also fed the baby piglets...a lot. I hung out with them too, sprawled on the hay with Faith, we took a “pig break” and rubbed bellies and contemplated how to teach them not to bite hands. These two are special, and not like the ones by the compost. They are friendlier, smaller breeds and their young will be eaten, but not them. In farm world, this means they can be doted on, and oh, they are. I must have fed them 12 times today, and every time Faith would hand me something and say, “do you want to feed it to the piggies?” I took off running.
There was an older couple at the farm in the afternoon making apple cider. They brought over seven large tubs of apples from their yard and were using David and Faith's mechanical slicer/presser. Even with this, it took them all afternoon. Towards the end of the day, they flagged me down and offered me the very first cup from the apples. I have never had fresh apple juice like that. I can still taste it's crisp, fresh flavor spilling into my belly. I love this time of year.
I harvested my own fair share of apples today, as well. Faith went on a walk with some friends, and I set out with some produce boxes to collect apples and plums. They are dropping out of the trees faster than can be kept up with. I couldn't believe that fruit could be a nuisance. It reminded me of seeing bison being treated like squirrels in Canada. A lot of the apples were either rotten in some spots, or had been eaten by worms. But I still ended up with a large quantity. The plums were even more plentiful. Walking under the trees was like strolling through royal blue rose petals. I would hear the hard, fleshy smack of one every once in a while as it fell from the tree. Once, one hit me on my cheek as I reached up and it felt like a baby's thigh smacking me across my face.
I dropped the plums off at the house so that I could try and make something with them, later. I talked with the couple for a while about their choice of vehicle, a Toyota Previa. If you are unfamiliar, here one is. I want one so bad. They told me that most I would find now days are on their last leg, but theirs looked in perfect shape, as if it had just rolled off the lot. I told them how I wanted to build a living area in it and they agreed, “Yeah, that would work great!” I knew I loved this place.
Faith informed me that Kai, David's ex-wife that lives down the road was having a barbecue for their daughter, Vilina, who was going back to college in a few days. Vilina splits her time at both places and is coming in and out, full of life and humor. I like it when she is around and am sad she is leaving. Faith invited me to join and offered to bake a crisp to bring over with me.
I've never made a crisp before. But, I think I will be doing it again. Mostly, because it was immorally easy for it to taste that good. We added pears to the baking dish, along with the plums and combined butter, oats and brown sugar to sprinkle on top. We baked it for 45 minutes, until the fruit juice was bubbling and accompanied it with vanilla ice-cream. For a girl that can't cook. I felt pretty proud.
David and Faith grabbed a jar of the fresh apple cider and a bottle of rum. Kai called to ask if we could bring butter. The three of us all walked over together, Lucy trotting alongside, muddy tennis ball in her mouth.
Vilina and I sat by the fire, playing the guitar, singing and talking about how she came to learn music from this elderly hippie on the island. She taught me the chords G, A and D and I attempted to strum along. We cooked oysters and family friends arrived. They talked about locals by name and I was constantly wanting to inquire about these Steven's and Margo's and Salomon's. It's weird getting to know people through their loved ones. Everyone was interested in my story and how I came to be here.
The women, I've noticed are beautiful here. I have never met so many beautiful women in their 50's, 60's and older. I have no idea how they do it and I'm too afraid to ask, but I might just stay here in order to make sure it happens to me. We all sat down to dinner and conversation flowed freely. The food was fresh, local and amazing. Kai's house was gorgeous. I felt so lucky to be a guest at this party for Valina and to be accepted so warmly, no questions asked.
After dinner, Faith and David went home and a few of us stayed and talked around the table for a few hours. You know how occasionally, you feel out of place, or like you don't quite mold into the already established group? Not here. If someone had come upon us, they would have thought I was the daughter or sister of one of the people. I didn't want the night to end. I don't think I've ever gotten along so well and so instantaneously with a group of women. Valina, Margo and I are all in our twenties. Kai and Margo's aunt, Lori are amazing, confident, successful women. I felt so engaged and enthralled by everything everyone said. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. I am glad I got to meet them.
We talked about my journey and they looked at the website. I talked about my life growing up and where I came from. They kept asking questions and I kept answering when Kai, who was doing dishes, spun around and yelled, “You need to write a book!” Lori (Parker), who teaches screenplay writing, has produced films and helps writers turn their work into screenplays, chimed in, “And I'll help you turn it into a screenplay!” The fact that these women said they would be loyal readers if I wrote was a huge compliment.
After saying our goodbyes, Valina let me borrow a headlamp for my walk home. I misplaced mine somewhere in the car and have been using a reading light I found at the outside kitchen. Vilina said I would see her tomorrow before she left and we joked about how I am the only child now.
I honestly don't know how long I will stay here. David and Faith refuse to tell me when they want me to leave. I have an article I want to write and see about publishing before I go. I think if I can complete that goal and set a new one, which I already have in mind, I will feel comfortable heading out into something new.
Just thinking about it makes me sad. Tomorrow, I will be harvesting potatoes and working in the garden more, and hopefully taking a few “pig breaks”.
Hopefully I don't get murdered again, tonight.
Editors Note: The pig mucus was successfully washed off during a shower the following evening.
I haven't posted on the blog in while so this post is kind of everything. It is long because of this and I promise I will be better from now on.
The backstory here is that I made arrangements to volunteer on an organic farm through WWOOF. It is a really awesome way of traveling and I would recommend it, highly. You have to pay to create an account but you live and eat for free and you can't beat that. I found a farm on Lopez Island, near Seattle and made it my destination for now.
I think I'm falling in love with my life.
No, for real. Think about that for a second. Think about what it feels like when you are beginning to fall in love. Every time you see the other person, you think, “I am so happy right now. I don't think I could love them any more than I do. This is the deepest thing I am capable of feeling.” But, alas, the next time you have that thought, you realize your love has grown and “THIS is the most you can love.” Falling in love is feeling your heart expanding. It's exactly like that scene from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Your heart is a muscle. When it grows, it becomes more powerful. It grows stronger and in turn, takes on more emotional weight. This weight, which we carry happily and pleasurably, is also the source of so much pain. One cannot imagine that they can feel what they have never felt. We try to limit ourselves, but true openness continues to surprise us. This perpetual state of surprise and awe is what people are constantly seeking. This is the state I have been seeking. This is the state I am living in.
Every single day, since the day I left Fairbanks, I have thought to myself (and sometimes muttered) that I don't think I could be any happier. And perpetually, every day following, I have found myself happier in so many different facets than I knew was possible. I feel like an spiritual octopus. My happiness reaches out in many different directions. That may ben hard to explain but it's like this; It's like living in a one-room space. You can enjoy the area, but after years of the same walls, the same objects, you don't appreciate it's beauty. Opening yourself up is like venturing out of the room. It can be scary, but you may find that you may live in many different rooms. When you imagine your inner sanctum, it's like an ever-flowing well. There is so much room, so much strength to pull happiness from. It's like taking a road trip.
I don't find that I have a limited resource of myself. I feel that I am unyielding, unending and eager to free-flow and interact with the people and places around me.
Does any of this make sense? I sat in on a yoga class for the firs time in months, this morning. I spent 90 minutes “expanding the light” in my body. I'm probably just suffering from yoga class comedown.
Last night, I made it to Lopez Island. The elusive completion of the road trip from Alaska. I found I di not want it to end! As I pulled away from the Canadian border, I felt an emptiness. That experience was so important and fun for me. I felt like I was breaking up with Canada.
I had some difficulty in Vancouver, after being in Fairbanks for eight months and then being even more isolated for a week. I always have a touch of culture shock when I venture down to the lower 48, so I wasn't surprised. But I also wasn't going to push myself and stress out. It's okay to be weak sometimes, as long as we acknowledge why and work with it. I knew I wanted to make it to a museum and ride my bike around. Vancouver is an extremely bike friendly city. We had our own lanes on the side of the road as well as our own turn signal! I was in bike heaven. I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery on Hornby street, downtown. There were only two exhibits open and two were in construction stages. A collection of Italian paintings on the first floor and a collection of documentary photography and art, called Residue: The Persistence of the Real, on the fourth floor. It included collections on Canada's famous prison, Elizabeth's Taylor's life through her belongings, and others. My favorite thing was the film Provenance. Here is the synopsis and link to Amie Siegal's website, the director:
A film work of cinematic scale, Provenance traces in reverse the global trade in furniture from the Indian city of Chandigarh. Conceived in the 1950s by architects Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, Chandigarh’s controversial modernist architecture includes original pieces of furniture—tables, chairs, settees, desks—created specifically for the building’s interiors. Recently these pieces have appeared at auction houses around the world, commanding record prices. Starting with the Chandigarh furniture in the present, the film begins in New York apartments, London townhouses, Belgian villas and Paris salons of avid collectors. From there, it moves backwards to the furniture’s sale at auction, preview exhibitions, and photography for auction catalogues, to restoration, cargo shipping containers, and Indian ports — ending finally in Chandigarh, a city in a state of entropy.
Juxtaposing contemplative tracking shots, precise framing, and recurrent tableaux the film enacts a subtly discursive cinematic space, peeling back time to make visible the furniture’s movement around the globe. This accumulative montage exposes the circuits of ownership and history that influence the furniture's fluctuating value.
After the gallery, I wondered aimlessly. I was sent to this international bank to get cash. It looked more like another art gallery than a museum. It was actually a multi-use building with the bank and other business. There was this guy sitting on the steps, just inside the front doors. He had a walkie-talkie and seemed rather comfortable, as if he worked there. I approached him, sat down and started up a conversation. Turns out he is a bike messenger. This means that he delivers things for business' around the city. I didn't quite understand and found this incredibly fascinating. He's delivered $100,000 to a bank before, blueprints between architects, and many other things. He lived in Sydney for eight months, doing the same work. We talked for a while about his job and Vancouver. I had parked my car in a pay lot and the time was about to expire. He said they were really strict about it and I should put more time in, so I left to do that.
I walked past a really good-smelling sandwich shop called Hubbub and instinctively went straight for it. The veggie sandwich was insanely messy and I kept locking eyes with other patrons as we struggled, gaping mouths and messy hands. I was feeling a little tense from the influx of stimuli, so I ordered a beer. This helped. I felt very full and happy, leaving.
I got to my car and decided I wanted to ride my bike around. My bike had been strapped to my car the entire journey and was now completely coated in immovable mud. I felt pretty bad for it. It struggled at first and I saw that a small metal holder for the gears had shaken loose, but it seemed to ride okay. I took off in the direction of the water. It was downhill and I felt so full of energy and life as I soared past everyone. Maybe it was just the beer. It was good to finally stretch my legs and I pedaled pretty fast, enjoying the speed and exertion. The docks smelled of fish and the seagulls were screaming. It was so much cleaner than Seattle and the people seemed at peace and not in a rush. There is this thing I always notice in cities, and it's the crinkled forehead. People are always walking around, with a serious look on their face and a crinkled forehead. Not Vancouver. It had the vibe of a small town.
I was so close to the border. I felt excited to be back in cell range and in Seattle, a city I know pretty well. So, I pedaled back to the car and attempted to leave. Except I could not get the ratchet straps to do what I wanted. I needed another person to lift the bike. I yelled towards this guy walking down the street. His response was to wink at me and continue strolling. This creeped me out to my core. I decided maybe people in Vancouver were a little weird and I should just get back to my homeland of crinkled foreheads. I shoved my disgustingly filthy bike into the car, on top of all of my stuff and took off towards the border.
When I got to the border, the agent refused to laugh at my jokes. Canada was easy compared to the U.S. And I am American. He searched my car. I had to let this camera take a picture of me and my passport. It was unsettling. All of the sudden, he leans over the car and plucks something out of my windshield. It's a parking ticket. “Did you know about this?” He asked me. I felt myself turn red and I let out a loud laugh. “Nope.” The agent chuckled and handed it to me. I MADE HIM LAUGH! I made him laugh, and it only cost me my pride...worth it.
My roommate's brother, Daniel lives in Seattle. I called him to see if he was in town. I hadn't had much contact with people and felt myself getting excited at the prospect of hanging out with someone I knew and could share things with. To my disappointment, Daniel was in East Washington for the next few days. My heart sank. He told me to go to the area where he lives, called Ballard. His friend FryBurger (Yes, I know) worked at a bar named King's Hardware. He said I could park in a residential area near there and sleep for the night with relative ease.
I got to the area and realized I was in the hipster epicenter of the universe. I thought I had been there before in Brooklyn. I was wrong. The strip with all the bars and restaurants was packed full of music and young adults with tattoos and black glasses. King's Hardware was connected to a barber shop. Taxidermy on the walls, wooden booths and arcade games made up the interior. All the employees looked the same. I sat at the bar and asked for FryBurger...not working. Rats.
I decided to just sit and enjoy my drink and catch up with some things online. This ended up turning into me, by myself in a crowded bar, reading an article on Tolstoy's philosophy on how to live life to its fullest. At one point I looked up and realized I might as well be in my car. No one spoke to me, for a loooong time. I was in the middle of sending a message to a friend in Fairbanks about this exact thing when this guy, in an over sized cowboy hat sits down next to me and asks quite frankly and fearlessly, “Hey, do you have a dream journal?” Everyone, meet Sam.
Him and his long-time friend were about to take a motorcycle trip through the mountains and had come out for a drink since they hadn't seen each other in a while. I immediately liked them. It became apparent to me that they were the most authentic thing in that bar. I still had the message box open. So, I typed, “Just kidding. The cowboys are here.” Exited out and never looked at my phone again.
I wanted to catch some of the live music, so we three left King's Hardware and went two bars down. There was a show that was about to go into encore and the bouncer let us in for free. The band was from New Orleans. I have no clue what their name was. I've tried to Google them and have had no luck. I wish I could give them some credit, because they were amazing. Catching the end of a show like that is sort of strange. Everyone is drunk and fervently applauding. The lights go up and there is the smell of sadness and beer everywhere.
After leaving, we weren't sure where we were going. All of the sudden, the couple in front of us slows down and the girl decides she is going to be my best friend. After only a few minutes, the guy admits that this is their first date. How did they meet? Tinder. That's right. I crashed a Tinder date. I was in heaven. I am fascinated by Tinder. I made an account for a day, went obsessive and then got freaked out and had to delete my account after accidentally swiping right, trying to take a picture of a creepy customer at my work.
The cowboys and the Tinder girl stay ahead and are working out the plan for the group and I lag behind to talk to the guy about the situation. He admits that he wants to go home, but can't because she has gotten so drunk, he feels responsible for getting her home safely. That seemed unrealistic to me. It's just a Tinder date. She's not your girlfriend. Just as I was about to say this, she turns to him and says in a whiny voice, “Are you leaving? Don't leave me! Please don't leave me!” It all made sense after this. We decided to all go somewhere and sit in a booth, take tequila shots and get to know one another. This drunk girl was actually a nurse and the following morning, had an early shift, “taking care of babies”, whatever that means. She then proceeded to force me to take photos of her and her unwilling participant/date. The results were painful. Me and the cowboys thought this whole situation was hilarious and made our opinions known. She then forced me to give her my number so we could hang out. I hate when girls do this. We are not going to hang out. Let's not pretend. She was relentless. I actually really liked this girl. She was pretty funny. We left them at the bar, and I wondered the next day what happened to them. I crashed at Sam's house. We stayed up late talking about Berlin, where he lived for seven years. I found an erotic book in the bathroom, that turns out, was written by his aunt and illustrated by his niece. Creepy. I read it out-loud and it was so good, I thought about stealing it and using it as means of entertainment.
I had wanted to sleep in my car and recruited Sam to help my get the bike strapped back on to enable me to do this. At this point, I'll admit, we were not sober. And I'll cut it short the painful, embarrassing details and say we could not figure it out. Perhaps he isn't a cowboy after all. I had to put it back in my car and sacrifice my independence, something I had gotten quite accustomed to. I realized I felt that my car was home. I wanted to sleep there because I was comfortable. It's weird how quickly that happens.
Yesterday, I woke up, hungover and needing to get to Lopez Island. I found a cafe and in my still drunken boldness, asked for a job. My still drunken lookness provided a negative response. just checking, So I stumbled out into the sun, secure in my destination.
I'm on Lopez now. I love it here. The farm is so much better than I could have anticipated. David and Faith greeted me with a glass of wine and instructions on how to use David's inversion swing (for decompressing backs). There was another WWOOFer, Rachel, and a previous one who works there now, named Alex.
Midnight's Farm is the name. There is a composting facility, a yoga studio, a bakery and so much more, including baby piglets. Rachel showed me around and then we all made dinner. It was like I had always been there. As we were preparing to eat, they held hands and I was caught off guard. David informed me that they say all say grace and I could read it from the picture on the wall. I won't repeat the words, because I like that it's a special tradition inside of their home, but it was nothing like the grace I grew up saying. It cemented my suspicion. I thought, “Holy Moley, I love this place.”
Rachel offered to let me sleep in the bed with her. She was leaving the next day after being on the farm for a few weeks. I really liked Rachel and was sad to hear she was leaving. At dinner, we talked openly about everything, and Rachel jokingly made plans to start an artist community, much like Midnight's farm. She is an artist in L.A. And illustrates and binds book. I felt so thankful at dinner that I had found these people who share similar dreams. I felt like I had stumbled into something very special and felt immediately at home. At some moments, we were all red-faced and leaned over in laughter at something. I had finally found them...the ones who laugh at my jokes.
This morning, we all had breakfast and I went to a yoga class. One of the instructors apparently lets the WWOOFers drop in for free. I couldn't find anything in the mess of my car and wound up being a few minutes late and having to make that awkward entrance all yoga students know. It felt so good to practice again. I was a little rusty and had to wear a pair of bike shorts and an 80's neon t-shirt. I was a little out of place.
After yoga, I tried to convince Rachel to stay. We exchanged information and I told her that if I make it to L.A. She will have to teach me how to bind books. Alex helped me empty the 5 gallon gasoline can into my tank that was on my roof (yes, because I couldn't figure it out). Alex and his girlfriend are about to drive to Alaska and he asked about the trip. Conversation came really naturally and then when I told him about the website and my journey, he lit up. “Ah, man. That's awesome!”
Apparently, he had wanted to do the same exact thing. He even made a website, but then never touched it again. He has been traveling for a few years and had thought of writing about it and building a career. I told him that he should do it. It's not too late. Having Alex react that way made me feel really proud of what I am doing. Some days, I think, i'm not really doing anything. No one will want to read this. But then, seeing how excited people get when I tell them about it, reinvigorates that passion and determination to keep everyone involved and continue writing.
Faith offered to let me take the day to get situated and unpacked and I decided to ride my bike into town. Lopez is only 28 square miles and really easy to bike around. If you have no idea where I am and what it looks like, here is a link to the Wiki page. It's fall here, and the perfect temperature for me. It smells of fish (which I like), and reminds me of Fairbanks. There is this thing called “take it or leave it” that is open on Saturday's and Sundays. It is like the transfer site in Fairbanks, except cleaner, and with less crazy people. Large quantities of items to be sifted through are organized. I found myself digging through the clothing and couldn't help but keep a couple of things. They are super weird items and I'm excited to sport them.
As I sit here in this cafe, which is also adorable and chill, I can't believe that I am in the midst of this. I am doing it. I had a dream, and I made it happen. There was so much build up to this, so much time to think about it and so much sacrifice. I can't describe how worth it, it was. I can't translate the feeling of being exactly where you want to be and doing exactly what you feel you should be doing with your life. All I can say is that I am falling in love. I am in love with my life.
The sun is turning the water into emeralds and I hear the pavement calling.
I should get out of this cafe and go live it.
Me and Monty trying to be hip and take a selfie, I end up looking like a weird lady on the side of the road talking to herself, clutching a cat with a harness and a selfie stick. Exactly what I was.
Internal weather report: Kinda crappy but optimistic and confident.
There is this book called The 7 day Total Cleanse. This book is a detailed guide for a week-long juice cleanse and sort of personal vacation. The daily juices are aligned with the chakras, each day has a specific meditation, spa treatment and embarrassingly, an art project. Aside from the art projects, this book is incredibly rewarding for the spirit. It's aimed for an upper class spiritual lady with loads of free time and a kinda garden level in artistic skills. With that said, I would defend this book like a middle-school friend. It gave me some really important tools after a bad breakup. The daily meditations calmed my spirit and the cleanse dropped my fat by an amount I didn't even think was real or right, but I felt and looked amazing. Where I'm going with all of this is as I sit down to write this, in a Boston's Pizza in the middle of nowhere Canada, and with a giant “Boston's size” glass of I.P.A. I'm hoping will help my back pain, I am reminded of some of those tools I picked up from that arguably cheesy self-help book.
How does one talk to oneself, for instance? Besides a general uttering like, “Where in the world are my...” or what happens quietly upstairs in one's mind, I don't find myself very often, in conversations with, myself. Being alone these last few days, and with no one to bounce things off of or confide in, I've been doing the unspeakable. I've been talking to myself. I like it. You should try it, but in private.
In that book, there was this journal you were supposed to keep. Each morning (at 7am), you were to ask yourself what your “internal weather report” was at write about it. This related to the physical journey as well as emotional, because I found while doing the cleanse, they are very deeply intertwined. They will always effect the other. Not eating solid food for two days made my internal weather report on day three, “Cloudy with a chance of screw you”. I began to connect the dots between my physical and mental.
Sadly, we often aren't aware of what's going on inside of our own bodies. This sounds crazy when you think about it. Granted, we aren't usually depriving ourselves of solids. We are eating when we want, sleeping when we want. We don't really need to notice. So we don't. And then we go hiking for two days, or go on tour with our band. We are irritable and unsure why.
We hardly ever treat our physical bodies like a crazy girlfriend on a road-trip. “How are you? Do you need some water? Do you want to take a quick break for food?” Or even worse, we do hear our bodies and then ignore them. Ever fallen asleep at the wheel? Or pushed an injury so far you made it worse? We often don't respect our body's authority and that makes it very angry and then it ends up does evil things to us. Both of us.
Doing my internal weather report every morning formed a small habit, which I didn't always keep but can come back to. I know how to talk to myself. More importantly, I know how to verbalize my answers. This makes me self-sufficient for long period of times, in trying circumstances. I trust myself to undertake difficult en devours alone because I have a good relationship with myself in this way. I won't push myself if i'm too tired or hungry or injured. I also know what works best for me and I don't try to do what others do if it won't work.
I think another important thing to add is that this relationship is a balance. Some people listen to their bodies too much. They are scared and/or unwilling to push their limits or make that physical self uncomfortable. It's like they are in an abusive relationship and don't want to piss the other one off. One has to know oneself, but maybe, not too well. We also leave room for growth and surprise. It's not easy and requires time alone, concentration and maturity.
People always ask me why I like traveling alone. It's not incredibly common among my peers to go out alone and be self-sufficient (and happy) in an encompassing way. I've often wondered about this, but not too much. Why does it feel like people my age don't have as good of a relationship with themselves as they do with their social media accounts? That sounds tacky; But I think there is truth there, so I'll let it slide. I don't even want to limit this to my peers. My mom seems flabbergasted by my travel habits. I check in with her every day because I know she worries as any mom would. But it seems like there is this divide. She thinks I'm sacrificing something and she doesn't know why.
A few days before I left Fairbanks, I spoke to my dad on the phone. He brought up how I tend to travel alone. My dad is an incredibly observant and honest dude. His perspective is something to be respected. He told me that he didn't know anyone else who traveled as much as me. I corrected him, quickly. “Wil?” My brother is a professional skateboarder. He spends more time outside the U.S. Than in it. My dad paused for a moment and thought about what he meant. “No.” He paused again. I've come to love these pauses. I know something new is coming. “Wil doesn't travel like you do, Becca. He's always with someone.” We both kind of agreed with a grunt and then thought about it for a second. Neither one of us had ever formulated that specific thought before and didn't go into it unprepared.
As you can tell, my dad and I are a lot alike. He's the smartest, most in-touch person I know. I swear, he spent 70 years in some other life, meditating in the Himalayas. We both get noticeably excited by the things like a new special on The History Channel, a good speech t a graduation ceremony and a new thought that comes up in conversation that seems to pave a new road off to the left. We talk about things like WWII and oil prices on our phone conversations. We like to stew about things and come back to it. We don't need anyone else to help us, just engage us if we ask for it. We didn't talk about the subject in length, but I think when we get to it again in the future, we will have both brewed a batch of contemplation on the subject and be able to spend a while there.
So, back to the questions. Why do I travel alone? Do I get lonely? What do I do the whole time?
I travel alone because I like it. I feel more comfortable by myself and enjoy formatting my experience, solely. Truthfully, I don't get lonely. I think of people often and wonder what they are doing and occasionally wish I was with them. But, I never wish they were with me. I never feel so crazy I'll just pick up a hitchhiker to have someone to talk to, (I would pick them up, but from a good-hearted, helpfulness of course).
What do I do the whole time? Sometimes I think of the people I love and the things I love. I've noticed in myself that I have to be away from things to truly appreciate them. It sounds kind of unhealthy, but driving out of Fairbanks, I was balling because I was so thankful and felt so loved by my roommates and my close friends who made such an effort to spend time with me before I left. As I hugged them goodbye, I was calm as a cucumber. But, I couldn't stop hugging them in spirit as I drove away.
(I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who made me feel so loved as I departed my home: You know who you are. Thanks for making it incredibly difficult to leave.)
As I write my internal weather report for today, I have to admit, it wasn't an easy day. My back is hurting worse than ever. When I breathe deeply, I feel like I am being stabbed. I m not making as much progress as I had hoped and feel disappointed in myself. I haven't been sleeping well at night and only being able to catch around 4 hours due to Monty being nocturnal and fall asleep when he does, around 6am, putting me behind schedule. I'm worried about my back because it seems to be getting worse and making every day an conglomeration of moments in pain.
But, there is no way I could say today was a bad day. Are you kidding me!? I got to explore Canada, which has been a dream of mine for years. I am lucky enough to see this country during fall. I am speechless at how beautiful the side of the road is, the abandoned motels and gas stations, the wildlife (I'll come back to that). The people here are psycho-nice. I found myself physically recoiling towards this woman at the visitor's station in Watson Lake when she called me “love”. People always say this, so I hate to agree with them. But it's true. Even the music here is creepily optimistic all the time.
It reminds me of when I was in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was on this public bus, at 10pm, trying to find somewhere to sleep. We had initially tried the beach, but it was a wet mess. These thug kids got on and I thought, “Oh no. They are going to hit on me and give me trouble.” They ended up being the sweetest, most socially polite people I had come across so far. I would go as far as to call them gentlemen. That's what Canada is like. I will spend the next ten hours of my drive and next few conversations with my dad trying to figure out how they are so nice and Americans....not so nice.
I am content. That's how I would put it. And I think that's what all people are searching for. There's nothing worse than wanting to be happy and not knowing how. I think happiness comes from internal contentment for whatever reason. You have to do what makes you happy.
I can't predict the future, so I can only say that I hope when I fill out tomorrow's internal weather report, I will find the same deep, rolling, bubbling contentment I found today.
I have a feeling I will.
I sound Canadian already.
Don't drive through west Canada at night. Just don't do it, unless you are a maniac and enjoy the thrill of the swerve.
Things I have almost murdered with my car (by inches in some cases): two brown bears, one moose, two porcupine, one white-horned owl, three rabbits.
Things I have actually murdered: one small bird (I think), countless butterflies. One rabbit went under the car, but I tried to center it, so who knows how that went.
This doesn't include the wildlife I have come in contact with safely: caribou, TONS of buffalo, more moose, a black bear.
There is this video I am really proud of that I have on my actual camera and can't share right now. I'm shoveling some banana bread into my mouth with a heard of buffalo standing behind me.
People love buffalo. This min-van driving in front of me SLAMMED on their breaks to rubberneck some buffalo, which turns out, are like squirrels. What makes this funny is that not even 10 minutes later, the same van speeds past a freaking black bear perusing right off the road. Not even a brake pump. "Hey! Is that a buffalo? No? Just a bear? Nevermind."
I didn't think one could almost run over a brown bear, but I now know, it's possible. There were two, both with large, block radio collars. The porcupine were the most narrowly missed. The craziest one that I will never forget is the white owl. It had to have been more than a foot tall and sitting in the middle of the two lanes, facing the other direction. It never once turned its head to look at me. As I swerved and passed it, it unfolded its wings and like a gust of wind had come in, swooped itself off the pavement and straight up.
The rabbits freak me out because they remind me of that picture from Vietnam of the little girl, naked, running towards the camera. It's called Napalm Girl. That sounds insensitive, but I know the woman. I mean, I know of her. She did an interview recently on NPR. Here it is.
The point is they just come screaming at you like they are the final female in some horror flick. It's terrifying with the headlights. It will haunt me.