Oct 11

Hwy 70

LEg One:


Here’s home.  I miss it in the best of  ways, and especially the people that come with it–all those bodies and hearts that have put so much into my home and also my departure.  Before leaving I painted the hillbilly-chateaux stairs (twice–it rained a half hour after I finished the first time) golden yellow to remind myself and everyone who passes that we’re on the perfect path.


Here’s Harvey-Sue in the autumn wash, on the way up to Richmond.   I was asking a lot of him to come along, more than either of us knew at the time.

Richmond was sweet and kind. It was jarring to have the attention of people  on me with no accountability of self; the slate on which to completely invent my presenting character had me paralyzed and  I was pretty quiet.

I did some driving that night and didn’t realize I’d left my fanny pack in the back of my cousin’s car until I ran low on gas on the outskirts of DC.  I was drudging through florescent 711s and Wa-Was trying to convince cashiers and even a cop of the truth–that I’d lost my wallet and would appreciate it if someone could take a check I’d found in my calendar–and nobody believed me.  Tho the situation wasn’t dire (i had snacks and could sleep in the van) it felt as such if from nothing else but the desperate and hallucinogenic panic of not being believed that I was in a bind.  Good perspective.

Finally, a construction worker named Bo over heard me and lead me (in his tractor) back to his site where I slept until daylight, when his boss gave me $40 for the check.  I spent all morning convincing the long-lined bank to allow me to withdraw $200, half of which I spent on the drab boredom and Sabraro/Starbucks grayness of the Jersey turnpike going north.  By the time I finally  made it to the city it was dark, and I was on the wrong bridge in traffic, boxing with maps, hazards on, raining, late to the show, Harvey-Sue trembling from all the lights and sounds…and when I pulled over to ask for directions he startled and barked at the man approaching and peed all over the front seat.  I yelled at him and feel horrible for it.

As for the gig: I’d not quite explored my capacity for self-deliverance until exhausted and spent on a stage alone in NYC.  I couldn’t tell whether the jam-banders were clapping along in support, or because I was a joke.  When I clambered down I felt like I could probbly take on anything. My friends Maxwell and Jess passed a bucket and made me $50 (including the $20 the bar owner slipped me), which inspired me to get out of New York as quickly as I could, expendable as that city can make the biggest of souls feel….so me and Harvey drove, each tied up in separate grumbling knots, and I didn’t quite make it to the GW bridge before I had to pull over and sleep.  Here we are the next morning.

 I can’t quite figure out why I hate New York so much. I love drab metallic decomposition, and wild colorful outcasts, and slabs of vast possibility.  And NY is brimming with these, but I always feel beat by it and washed numb by the time I stumble away.  It reminds me of a bottle of rancid oil being forced through tiny tubes, and I’m the little dead fly stuck immobile in the thick of all of it.  ok so the obvious question is why did I go to NYC?  I’ll refrain from answering, and just say there is no better feeling than leaving it behind.

I was so giddy to be driving away, that I overshot Philly by two hours and got exasperated again.  I decided to define the lessons I was learning.  Still raining.

Moody rumination / lesson #1: My current problems are those of a privaledged kid. I should stop crying.

#2. I’m totally riddled with self doubt, the lot of which was undetected until I set myself up for self reliance.

#3. Self reliance is cool; rugged individualism sucks.

I decided to do work on my self doubt later, and to spend the rest of the cash on a replacement GPS.  (By the way, I had bought one a couple weeks ago for the trip, which got stollen and I had replaced it the morning I left with this one: 


So I called my mom to google a Best Buy in Jersey and overshot Philly going north by another hour.  The overshooting / re-overshooting can only be justified by a ragged kid-tantrum exhaustion mixed with a fervor that felt like addiction to just get the fucking GPS–like everything would be magical if I could just have a machine tell me what to do. I heard something once about technology being an attempt to make the world a better place without us having to be better people.

I arrived at the venue on empty, having used the very last of the ash tray change for the last toll (and then driven in exactly two small circles at the command of the almighty GPS), disheveled, exhausted and feeling alone.

Then…. low and behold …like sudden shelter I found beloved friends from Durham and New York who grabbed my drum and guitar, took Harvey around the block, parked the van, gave me hugs and pats and supper! And then the sweetest boldest music from CAl Folger DAy and her friends, and there was Charles Latham, who’s songwriting I’ve fetishized for years, and  a tiny little dancing kid, hot coffee, and elbow room.  These things turned frantic emptiness into exuberant freedom at the speed of sound and warmth.  It’s a special thing when that happens, and seems to be most present in the serendipity of trusting and traveling.  After the show, I tucked my ears into my toboggan and walked Harvey all over west Philly, past a brick high school with an old football goal. We slept on the PA turnpike just on the other side of the toll booth. I set off the car alarm and clambored out in the rain to disarm it, sopping socks and boxers…and I finally laughed.  The next morning was beautiful and grey and brand new.



Somerset PA: The hottest cup of coffee and most delicious egg sandwich I’ve ever had …maybe the freest I’ve ever felt–first time in a while that not a soul in the universe knew my whereabouts







Dry Run PA:  Me and Harvey have found some creative ways to run around in fenced in areas.  I was shocked to hear that some folks think this drive along I70 is boring









Hwy 70: That evening was the first time on the whole trip that there was a spit of color through clouds.







Bloomington IN: … and yesterday just outside of Bloomington we found the deserted fair grounds.  I’m dizzyingly contented.  It’s warm and crisp and the color of carrots.  Rocky beginnings make mundane, spacious time at the used-to-be races feel ecstatic.  I’m loping in the strange aimless love that feeling free affords.

I like thinking about someday living in some new town that’s been meticulously constructed for and by people I haven’t met yet.

A wall-sized map of the world arrived at my friend, Meredith’s house yesterday, at the same time I did. We tacked it up in her room and studied it for a long time. The size ratio of the map is printed in the corner; me and Harvey-Sue have traveled  36,384,000 times the size of my finger.

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