Galway, Ireland

Oh goodness, writing a poem made me feel so much better. I haven’t been able to write much this month – I think the last poem I wrote was at the beginning of this trip, near a month ago. I love how the writing of a poem can mean such closure for me – as though I can close a door after putting my pain into prose.

Tonight we are in Galway, where we just returned from a pub-hopping four hours where we attempted to find live music. We succeeded in finding it, but along with it came pubs so crowded we could not move, and plenty of sketchy men. It made me wonder whether Lisdoonvarna was really any worse than any other pub on a Saturday night. However, the music we did find was wonderful, with a fiddle, guitar, and accordion, so that made the evening much more complete. That, along with the delicious crepe I had prior to the pubs.

Tomorrow, we head to Limerick, where we spend our last two nights of the trip. Here’s hoping they go well and we end the trip on a high note. I’m not looking forward to figuring out the airport, since Kara leaves at seven in the morning, and I leave at one in the afternoon, and five hours extra in an airport does not sit well with me. I might just have to cough up the extra dough for a taxi, methinks.

There is no doubt in my mind I will be returning here, to Ireland. I just need to remind myself of that. It will make the departure from this beautiful place a bit more bearable.

There’s just such magic here. However, I need to remind myself that the magic is everywhere – it’s merely a matter of living moments as they arrive, and entering the flow of the world around us. I know half my reader’s brains shut off when I start getting all metaphysical and such, but I’m only relaying concepts I believe to be true, and which mean very much to me. Life, and the landscapes within it, has a natural and beautiful flow.

When we enter into the rhythm of the earth’s heartbeat, magical things happen.

It just seems that in Ireland, magical things happen all the time. ☺

Homecoming

Occasionally I get the feeling like I want to cry and cry and cry.

Sometimes it’s when I glance at a picture I took, and suddenly I’m transported right back to that spot, feeling and breathing and being there. Sometimes it’s just an image in my mind, or a random impulse. The whole world is different now. Yes, I am back home… but my entire world has been changed.

I don’t want to cry because I’m sad, though, because I’m not. I’m actually very happy. Today was one of the best days of my life. I went over to my Dad’s house in Charlton, and we had a fantastic day. All the kids were there (Joel, Govie, Candice, and I) and we haven’t all been together like that in years and years. We sat outside by the pool and we laughed, and then we ate steamers and lobsters, and even Dad, while he was saying Grace, had to cut the prayer short because it was all so beautiful. I almost cried myself, sitting there, being happy.

Today assuaged so many of my fears of coming home. I was so nervous that I would be depressed, or that I would feel more distant than ever from my family and the people who matter. I am overjoyed to learn that this trip has only brought me closer to the authentic self I was always hoping to express and to be, and that now I move more fluidly through moments. I am more settled in the Present, and I am more confident of my place within it.

But occasionally I just want to sob. I am unaware of where this impulse is originating from, but I know it is partly from a deep appreciation of the Road, and of the Silence, and of the Solitude I experienced there.

I was always one who thrived in solitude rather than feared it, but now it is more than that. Now it is an awareness of my strength, of my profound nature, my grace, my gifts, and my place on this earth. I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn this things, and at such a young age. I have an entire life now to impress myself upon the world, and leave marks of beauty and grace, and poetry.

Taos, New Mexico & The Enchanted Circle

So I think I interrupted the motel owner’s tryst with another man… it was right out of a movie. The lobby door was locked, I heard giggling and frolicking in a nearby room, and after ringing the doorbell and knocking a few times, a shuffling and a “hold on!” and finally the two of them show up, one guy smiling and the other (the owner) buttoning up his shirt and letting me in the building.

At least the room was cheap.

As, apparently, is the owner. 😛

But that seemed to be a perfect ending to this day. It has been quite… full. Since five o’clock this afternoon, I have walked through a ghost town, traveled to Colorado, put my feet in a lake (the first water I’ve been in for months), hiked up a hill while following the stations of the cross, eaten fantastic Mexican food in the oldest town in Colorado, and drove through the mountains while lightning illuminated the sky.

And that’s only a brief glimpse at some of this day.

It was a good day.

I woke up knowing that things needed to change. The woman I was staying with in Taos was a nice person, and I felt safe with her, but she was definitely a Debbie Downer. I have to give her slack, though, for her life seemed pretty horrific. From what I could piece together, her daughter was killed right in front of her, as was her dog, Ocito, who had been her companion for the last few years. She had traveled to South Africa, started her own charity, and had recently lost one of her best friends over there, to AIDS. So those are just a few examples of the weight she carried on her shoulders, so I can certainly understand that, but after being woken up by her in the middle of the night, as she cried, and I comforted, I realized that this might not be the ideal situation for me to get myself balanced.

Yesterday, I woke up, happy for a decent sleep (and my life) and headed over to the Taos Pueblo. Since Magellan told me to, I illegally drove through the Pueblo land, but luckily I didn’t get in trouble for it. Instead, I got to see how these people live, tucked away on their reservation, without water or electricity, and lots of dogs and horses walking around freely. Mostly, though, the drive was filled with empty desert land, beautiful in its simplicity and loneliness.

The Pueblo itself was gorgeous, even though I felt as though I were trespassing. A couple dozen people of the Pueblo have little shops, and they don’t mind the tourists, but the rest of the people who live there must be pissed! I know I would be. The entire purpose of living on the Pueblo is to maintain tradition and distance, and then suddenly you start charging people 10 dollars to witness this incredible life choice, and I don’t know… it would piss me off.

The Pueblo people really liked me, however. Especially… the men. Cheyenne, when I got home that night, said “yeah – they like the big, beautiful women.” I was initially going to be affronted by this comment, but then realized I was talking to a 5 foot one, 90-pound individual. She would probably be offended if I called her… squirt. So I let it go, and accepted the truth of it, because during my couple days in Taos, I think I had the potential for about five marriage proposals if I had just smiled one more time, or stayed a moment longer. It was nice, to feel so beautiful and mooned after, but it was… odd, since the culture I come from isn’t that way.

The winner for best ‘mooning after’ was definitely Joseph, however, He was a Pueblo man, who lost an arm a dozen years back while… carving a buffalo, or something. For some reason, it was as though I walked into his Pueblo and changed his life, because he lit up and hugged me for about… five minutes too long. After talking to me for a while, he also decided to bless me and my journey, so he lit a sage smudge stick and covered me in smoke and whispers. Wait, I made that sound too mysterious and sexy. It was definitely mysterious, and it was a beautiful Pueblo tradition he was allowing me to be a part of, but sexy it was not. Just to clarify. However, after this he asked me if he could take me to the mountain that night, and play his drum and sing to me the native music of the Pueblo people.

I mean, how could I turn that down.

But I did. I wasn’t about to put myself into another situation like that, however more innocent and authentic he seemed than Scott in Roswell. So I might have missed out on the most life-changing drum-filled spiritual experience of my life, but I had to let it pass.

I felt a bit of a stronger affinity to Cesar, who was a young man who worked in one of the stores in town. I didn’t notice him much at first, since I was enamored by all the beautiful jewelry, but eventually I needed to ask for his assistance, and we talked for quite some time while I was being wishy-washy about which pieces of jewelry I wanted.

In the end, I spent farrrrr more than I expected to, but not really since I had been waiting since Georgia to get to the Southwest and purchase the jewelry I wanted. I had wanted some inlaid jewelry (I expected it to be Zuni at the time, but the pieces I bought were Navajo, I believe), and I wanted some of the… green stuff. I think it’s just green turquoise, but I’m not completely sure. You think I would have learned the stones by now, but alas. I have not.

However, Cesar was extremely kind, and I didn’t think about him ‘that way’ until I was leaving and he said “see you tomorrow.” I turned around, and he said “Please?” I told him I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and I didn’t end up going back, even though I happened to drive by the shop today and was tempted. He was a good person, with intelligence and drive. He wasn’t what he initially presented himself as, and I liked that about him. He had definitely grown on me. But the last thing I want is to suddenly be stuck in Pueblo town.

Another fascinating individual I met was… well, Aspen something was his Native name, and I forget his real name… so I’m basically useless. But anyways, he was a 14-year-old boy from the Pueblo, who was selling the family wares that day with his grandma. They were such sweet people, and I bought a piece of inlaid work in the shape of a turtle, which his father, a master silversmith, had made. The boy, however, was fascinating, because at 14 he was one of the smartest, well-spoken individuals I have ever met, which is not just rare for the world, but extremely rare for this area of New Mexico. He painted cards, and was working on the Micaceous clay pottery, and was studying Law, and was basically a fascinating young man. I wanted to kidnap him and show him the world, and see what he had to say about it all.

Today was a tough one. I woke up, really unsure about what to do. All I knew was that I had to keep moving, and that the air had very quickly gotten stagnant while staying with Cheyenne, as interesting and kind as she was. So I packed up, and left Taos around noon.

The funny thing is, I left Taos again around five.
Haha.

The reason for this is that I drove the Enchanted Circle, an 80-mile loop around the Carson National Park area, which is wonderfully scenic, and drives through quaint little mountain resort towns. I especially liked Red River – it would be an ideal place to have a family vacation. There was even a ghost town, Elizabethtown, along the way, which used to be a thriving gold rush town, and is now essentially a shadow. Of course, I loved that… being surrounded by the history, with only remains acting as proof that anything was ever there. The woman working at the “museum” was really kind and gracious to me, and it was strange to be in the middle of nowhere, looking at old stuff. Really surreal experience, though, even if I’m not bothering to describe it very well. As I was driving out of the “town,” four horses were walking alongside my car.

That was fun.

And since the time between this morning and this evening, everything has changed. This must be the most life-filled day I’ve ever lived.

The most life-filled day I’ve ever lived. 🙂

San Antonio, Texas

I dropped Mom off at the airport today, hugged her goodbye, and went back to sit in my car. Alone. It felt almost surreal to be all alone again, this time halfway across the country.

It has been a month since I arrived in Eunice, LA, and what ‘a long strange trip it’s been’. 🙂 Furthermore, for the past two weeks, Mom and I have been vacationing essentially by ourselves – first to New Orleans, and then Texas.

Without meaning to sound even remotely insulting to my mother, for I had a great time with her, but the past month has definitely thrown me off. Some of my strength and passion dissipated, and I felt myself being drawn back into that shell… away from the light, not only of the world, but the light within myself. However, after enough moping around and introspective thought today, I came to the conclusion that it was probably good for me, since it reminded me of my original goals, and where I had strayed. It hopefully will assist me in getting back on track, and learning how to be strong – as Kara Emily Krantz. This showed me that there needs to be a balance between the dream of me, and the reality of the world. One can only press oneself so insistently and suddenly upon the world… an imprint needs to be made slowly, and with care.

I had started to get close to an affirming, authentic sense of unshakable self, but apparently it is still very shakeable, for the past few weeks have been rough on me.

But other than that…

Mom and I went to the San Antonio Zoo, which was fantastic, even though it was unbearably hot (as mostly everywhere is here). It’s been really fun to go to all these zoos – as I’ve mentioned before, the zoo has a special place in my heart. The little 5-year-old in me recalls those last fading moments of innocence, when family was a unit and all that mattered was the Panda Bears. 🙂

We also went to The Alamo (wayyyy lame I don’t want to talk about it), Mission San Jose (awesome) where there was a fantastic documentary that simply blew me away. Yesterday… Mom and I went to New Braunfels where the world’s number one water park is located, Schlitterbaun… which basically resulted in a day of HELL. But I’ve never been a big fan of water parks. Haha. Oh man. Quite the day, though.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel resort, where I am tonight by myself (Mom gave me the last night), and we walked down the Riverwalk (which contrary to Joshua’s opinion I found to be beautiful and wonderful), and walked through the shops in La Villita, and had a great steak dinner (and some horrible tex-mex). We met up with Joshua twice, and my mom actually liked him (which is shocking- she’s not a fan of the opposite sex, especially if they’re talking to ME). She even dreamed about him last night, but I didn’t tell him that. He’ll have to find that out when he reads this, haha. 😛

But now Mom is gone, and I’m here alone. Went through a melancholy, emo stage for a while where I crawled into bed and pouted, but a few friends rallied for me, and I knocked myself out of it. Walked down the Riverwalk by myself, took some pictures, packed up the car, and I’m basically all better. Just trying to get up the energy to keep working on my cocoon, and hopefully, eventually become that butterfly. Like I said, there’s been some serious setbacks these past few weeks, but it’s all right. God doesn’t give us anything that we can’t handle, and I’m starting to think that nothing happens that isn’t meant to occur at a given time – to assist us or confront us along this winding, often dirt-trodden path.

They call me ‘The Gator Wrangler’…

Or, GW for short.

Okay, maybe it’s just Clay who calls me the Gator Wrangler, but the name has grown on me.

Tuesday morning, Mom, Clay, and I headed over to the reserve, about a two hour drive towards the Gulf of Mexico. Once there, we took a ride on his boat, searching for alligators. We stopped at one of the cement bridge-like structures off to the side of the marsh, and got out of the boat. There was a family, and a couple older gentlemen, hunting for crabs, and they greeted us. The family was on their way out, and the woman told us she was leaving the crab lines in the water, and we were welcome to them. It was basically a long stretch of rope, with a hunk of chicken meat tied to the end.

By this time, Clay had figured out that it might be worth the effort to do a little shrimping, so he went and fetched his net, and started throwing it in, then sorting out the shrimp from the catch. After a little while, I saw the rope with the chicken go taut, and so I bent down to pull on it and see what was on the other end. As soon as I bent down and picked it up, I saw the alligator, thrashing around with the chicken in his throat.

So… I started pulling harder on the rope (I don’t know, seemed like the right idea at the time) and the gator was flipping himself over and fighting to keep the meat.

Needless to say, I won this gator-wrangling fight.

After that, he slunk off to pout in the shade. He was pretty pissed. But as Clay put it, “wouldn’t you be upset if someone ripped a hunk of meat out of your stomach after you put it in?”
After that, everything appeared relatively blasé.

We (and I say ‘we’ because it makes me feel more involved) caught about five pounds of shrimp, then purchased about five pounds more. Clay also picked up some live crabs in the town of XXXX, which has basically become a ghost town ever since Hurricane Rita. We drove through a large part of the area that had been devastated by Rita, and it was unbelievable to believe that entire houses, even towns, had been completely destroyed. There were some houses that even the foundation had been vanquished, and there was literally nothing to mark a place where someone had lived, had celebrated, had raised their children and watered their gardens. It’s much easier to understand the devastation the hurricanes can bring when you’re right there, in the land that they affect. Back home, there is nothing that touches us the way these storms ravage the South. It’s almost impossible to imagine losing everything in such a way.

Tonight, a large group of people came to the house, and we all ate the Seafood Gumbo that Corey made last night. I’ve never had gumbo before… it’s different, that’s for sure! There were like crab bones sticking out and such, but it was cool to know that we were eating the shrimp Clay caught the other day.

There’s more to say than I can possibly convey. And words seem like such a waste of time- unless I’m using them to convey something more profound than itinerary information.

Cool news: Bought a new camera – a Canon Powershot G9 – it’s amazing. There really are not words for it.

More cool news: Off to New Orleans on Monday.

Mas cool news: Today I booked my flight to London in September.

Yeah, that’s right.

I have a one-way ticket to Europe. 🙂

2-month anniversary!

So yes, today marks my two months on the road. In a way, I find that hard to believe, yet at the same time, I feel like this has been my life forever now. When I think about my life before I left, it feels like another person, living that way.

And I never want to go back.

I don’t mean that I’m not willing to return to my home, in Massachusetts. But I never want to go back to life the way I knew it.

A week ago, my dad told me over the phone that he hoped that I could “come back home and return to reality.” This statement stuck in my craw then, and it has embedded itself like a sliver. At the time, I merely asked him whose reality he wanted me to return to – because my priorities and goals had changed. However, the more I thought about it, the more my mind expanded around the subject. There are a million ways to live – on this trip alone, I have met dozens of people who have taken me into their lives and showed me different ways to look at the world. I haven’t gone around fully embracing everybody else’s beliefs and ideas, but I certainly respect them. I listen to them, I learn from them, and I take what applies to me, and what helps make me become a better person. I embrace the concepts and beliefs that bring me closer to the person I want to be, every day of my life.

I told my mother today that out of all the people I’ve met so far, my cousin Lisa (whom I had never really known before this trip) has been the most influential for me. She has also been the most grounded, the most accepting, and the most spiritual of everyone I’ve met. She embraces each moment individually, and out of everyone I’ve met so far, lives with the least judgment in her heart and the least anxiety in her life. I truly believe that I will be able to use her as a model for the type of life I wish to lead – one that is peaceful, yet successful – selfless, and yet maintaining a beautiful balance of personal care of the soul.

Anyways, the point of that digression was not only to highlight Lisa, but also to highlight the fact that there are so many ways to live that can still lead me to not only live well, but also to fully thrive as a soulful human being. Never again do I want to allow myself to get caught up in the “daily grind” of materialistic, egocentric ways. Back home, it was as though everyone was merely trying to keep up with what society told them they should do and be – and I was beginning to fall for it. Beginning to believe that all that mattered was my education, and my paycheck, and the way I looked, not only physically, but also on paper.

What really matters is that when people look into my eyes, I want them to see my soul – and I want it to bring them peace, and offer them the inspiration to follow the clandestine, beautiful dreams in their heart, as well. This life is far too short for us to believe, for even a second, that power and money and possessions really plays even the most minuscule of parts. True, they allow us to survive and they allow us to move about in our society, but when they replace the parts of the soul that make us whole and authentic and beautiful, then it is not a worthwhile trade.

Anyways, the point of this entry is to herald in the third month of my trip. I have been on the road for 62 days now, and they have been 62 days that will have forever changed my life, whether or not I fully realize their impact now.


The Grand Ole Opry

It’s really something interesting to drive (and walk) around the country by yourself. Every step is new, each rock is completely yours to touch, every bird yours to notice, and the sound of the water is yours alone to hear. I can stop when I want, take pictures of what I want, eat when I want, and find myself hilarious whenever I want.

I’m really a fantastic traveling companion. Haha. 🙂

Panda might tell you otherwise. But don’t listen to her. I mean really, she’s a panda.

Went to the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. Couldn’t believe I was actually there. While I was outside in the park, listening to the outdoor band and sitting on a bench, I realized how strange it can be to be alone in moments like that. Literally everyone has people they are talking to and laughing with and discussing things with. Occasionally, conversations can happen with strangers, but they’re often over-rated and sometimes even annoying. And I wasn’t feeling lonely or left out, it was simply an awareness of being by myself whereas everyone else was together.

Walking into the Opry House was beyond thrilling. You could feel the history and the music in the air. It’s a gorgeous building; I wish it was still located in The Ryman, but you can’t have everything.

Dwight Yoakam was the main performer, and I was beyond excited to finally see him in person. It was his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry in over 16 years! Furthermore, his latest album is “Dwight Sings Buck Owens” – Buck being my favorite all-time singer, so I was basically in heaven. Dwight, dancing around with his skin-tight pants and ridiculous moves, twangy voice and tan cowboy hat. He was excellent, as was the entire evening. I admit it – I teared up at one point, overwhelmed by the fact that I was where I was, when I was, feeling how I was… just everything was perfect.

I also want to mention that on my way to the Opry House, my Magellan GPS system was telling me what to do, like the bitch that she is, and I had to laugh out loud when she said “Turn right onto Grand Olee Road” – stressing the long ‘e’- almost making an olé out of it. Hehehe.

See, these are the things that entertain me when I’m by myself.



Last Evening in Ellijay

It’s two in the morning, and I’m far too tired for this (after two hours on the phone with Jason!), but I’m annoyed at myself that I haven’t blogged more lately. I’ve certainly had the time – sitting here, relaxing in the beautiful mountains. However, I have been lame and puttered away my evening hours rather than writing marvelous works of literary nonfiction.

The last few days have been delightful. Needless to say, my entire stay here in Ellijay has been heaven. Lisa and Doug are ridiculously wonderful people, and I couldn’t be happier here with them. I am completely at peace, and have spent more time talking about things that matter, and laughing, than I have in years.

This evening I looked in the mirror, and saw myself. It only lasted about 10 seconds or so, but there I was. I haven’t had that experience much in the past year – usually I see a stranger, and it saddens (often frightens) me, but today I glanced up, and there I was. And I smiled in a way I haven’t smiled in months, and I wanted to run outside and hug a tree.

Much like the way LISA hugged a tree yesterday at Amicalola Falls (okay fine I hugged the tree, too, I was just trying to implicate her). It was a gorgeous park, and we hiked up the 164 steps, and took lovely pictures, and all we needed was a picnic and a puppy and the world would have been perfect. 🙂

Afterwards, we headed over to Dahlonega, which was the location of the first gold rush here in Georgia. It was a quaint little place, and we went into the stores and looked at all the knickknacks, and Doug was our knave and carried our water bottles, and life was basically beautiful for the entire day. AND I bought myself a cowboy hat! And, yes, I am as happy about that as that exclamation point implies. 🙂

So tomorrow I’m hitting the road again – this time will be the hardest it’s been for me to leave a place. I could honestly stay here for the rest of my life, and be happy, but I know there is a whole entire world out there for me to see, and I’m looking forward to continuing this beautiful journey. I’ll have to make sure to keep in touch with Lisa, because her words remind me of all the peaceful, soulful things inside me, and our beliefs and dreams line up so well. I’ve never been more inspired to continue being myself, and to pursue all the things that my soul whispers for me to do.

Tomorrow is Tennessee. People have really rallied to my aid, and I have two people in Knoxville willing to take me in, and a writer in Nashville waiting for me on Thursday. I’m looking forward, now that I am well rested and rejuvenated, to meeting new people and feeling that feeling of randomness again. As much as I love security and comfort, it’s a great experience to push myself further, stretch myself into new realms. Much like the yin and the yang that I was talking with Lisa about the other day – that delicate balance between pleasure and pain. That point where one is stretching past the point of comfort, but at the same time feeling a beautiful balance and one-ness with the body, and the earth.

Oh goodness, I almost forgot to mention. This morning (which for me was the middle of the night) at 6 AM, the fire alarm went off, and I was shocked out of sleep. Simultaneously, strangely enough, a huge thunder and lightning storm was happening outside, so it seemed as thought my entire world was in chaos. I was completely confused, but after checking in with Lisa that everything was all right, I returned to my bedroom and proceeded to pull up all the shades and let the outside into the inside. There are six large windows in the room, so it felt like I was in the middle of the storm, and it was amazing to sit there with the lightning flashing and the thunder booming. I tried to pinpoint the place on my body where I felt the thunder (yes these are the types of things I’ve been doing) and I discovered that the thunder resonated deeply within my ribcage, spanning across my abdomen. It was powerful and wonderful, and completely thrilling. I stayed awake with Panda for as long as my eyes could manage, until I fell back asleep, the sound of deep rumbling in my ears.

‘Tis enough for now, I must rest. Tomorrow is a big day, and I need to be prepared for driving through the Smokey Mountain National Park and checking out the ridiculousness that is Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. 🙂


One Month Anniversary!


I’m tired and sort of just want to go to bed, but I needed to at least publicly acknowledge the fact that today is my one month anniversary on the road. I left Sturbridge, Massachusetts on April 30th, and today is May 30th… so that makes a month. Math was never my strong suit, but I’m confident in these calculations, and I just wanted to make it known that I am still alive, and have yet to completely lose my mind.

A statement which could certainly be put into question once one is aware of how I spent my day. First of all, I smuggled Panda into the Atlanta Zoo… so she could meet her family. Then I proceeded to try and keep from hyperventilating as I saw my first real pandas in over 16 years… ::sigh::

It was a good day.

It was a damn good day.

And yay me for one month on the road!

River Majesty, Ellijay, GA

I really can’t complain about my present situation. I’m on my private deck, panda cheerfully (as cheerful as she can be) by my side, about a hundred-fifty feet above the river’s edge. I’m listening to doo-wop, with the background music of rippling water, and slowly consuming strawberry mentos.

Not bad for a Wednesday afternoon.

It’s also pretty cool when you can look out the kitchen window and see a deer, looking back at you. I was able to grab a rotting apple, cut it up in front of her, and throw her pieces. It’s crazy to have her little doe eyes watching me, much like a puppy, waiting for her treats. Beside her was a chubby little squirrel, happily munching on the kernels of corn I had thrown out there earlier this morning. We were a happy little family, and I understood how Lisa can stand out there for hours, feeding her animals.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a light rain, and afterwards, around 5:30, I decided to take a walk around the area. I was in absolute heaven, for the rain had inspired everything to glisten, and the light was respledently laying upon every little leaf and stone. My camera got a workout, as did I, and I fell asleep last evening, content that I had captured pieces of beauty in a box.

I found out today that there are pandas at the Atlanta Zoo… so… um… HOLY FREAKIN’ YES! 🙂 I plan on making a day of driving down there, sitting with Panda beside her family’s exhibit, and leaving when they force us out (panda kicking and screaming, I’m sure).

Beyond that, not too much to divulge. I’ve been finally able to relax a little more (relaxation is an art form) and I’m sure by the time I get it mastered, it will be time to move on. But alas, this time in Georgia is definitely a beautiful way to rejuvenate and prepare for the next leg of my journey.

I had a terrible dream last night. I dreamed that I was back home, no longer on the road. It was the strangest feeling; I didn’t understand why I was home, in my bed, and I started to panic. I couldn’t move, I was too tired, but all I could think was “No! I have to get on the road! I had already gone so far; why am I back here?” The dream brought up a lot of different emotions for me, but it gave me the ability to perceive my current travels as one would a memory, rather than a present experience. I guess it is crucial to see the bigger picture sometimes; and in this case, I was able to realize that forty years from now, when I look back on my life, this roadtrip will have been the turning point. I will be able to say “so then I packed my car, and drove away.”

And that was when my life began.

Cherokee, NC & Ellijay, GA

Panda is extremely happy about our new location. She is currently reclining like a queen in our king size bed, listening to the sounds of the Cartecay River outside our third story cabin window, occasionally mumbling to herself about how she wants to feed the deer in the morning.

This evening we are in Ellijay, nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.

We were welcomed here a few hours ago by my cousin, Lisa. She is actually a second cousin of my mother’s, and they grew up together. Mommy is very happy to know I am safely ensconced here with family, not gallivanting about couchsurfing. It is absolutely gorgeous here, so I can’t deny that I’m content to be here, as well. First of all, the drive alone was majestic, traveling through the mountain ranges. My straight and wide recollection of highways could barely handle the curvy turns and twists of the narrow roads here; nevertheless they are termed as highways, and are the only way to get from point A to B. As I drove, I couldn’t help but to think how even a hundred years ago, a mile was a mountain, both figuratively and literally. No wonder people settled into the curves of the hills and never left; there were little options beyond that existence. There is something both tranquil and terribly isolating in that thought.

Before the Blue Ridge Mountains welcomed us, Panda and I briefly visited the Great Smoky Mountain Range, as well. I was thrilled to attend my very first Native American Powwow, right on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina. I woke up, relatively early (for me), said goodbye to Chris as he left for work, then headed over to Cherokee for the Memorial Day Weekend Powwow. As I drove deeper into the mountains, I could barely contain my joy – I could smell the husky smell of wood smoke, and almost drove off cliffs a couple times due to my absolute awe of all that was around me. I was tempted to pull off to the side of the road, and simply refuse to leave. For the rest of my life.

Nevertheless, I made it to the powwow, and gratefully so, for it was a wonderful experience. I sat next to a nice woman named Pat, who was also traveling alone, and we both enjoyed taking lots of pictures of the singers and dancers. As soon as the singers began drumming, I felt that burgeoning feeling in my chest again. I have felt so much energy, deep within my chest – first with yoga, then the mountains, now the music. It’s as though the air is pressing down upon my heart, and it is a perfect mixture of yin and yang, pleasure and pain. As the drumbeats started, and the players mixed their voices into the beat, tears formed in my eyes, and I could barely swallow. Again I was overwhelmed with profound emotions, spilling up from my soul. It is not only an awareness of joy and of life, but also of a deep soul pain, probably in a war between feeling and healing.

I’ve only been with Lisa for a few hours, and already we have had incredible conversations. She is a great representation of the kind of person I hope to be, and has accomplished many of the things for which I strive. At the very least, she owns this cabin, which is a perfect symbol for me of everything I dream of – the earth, a sense of peace, security, and authenticity. She might have to pry me off the porch to get me to leave.

Asheville, NC

After leaving Savannah at 10:30 AM, I drove five and a half hours back to Raleigh, North Carolina, to be comforted by my friend, Corey. As I told Rick this on the phone, he laughed and said “I’ve never heard of anyone going to such lengths to nurse a hangover.” Which, once I thought about it, was half-hilarious, half-pathetic, and completely necessary. I was a mess. After all that crying and all that feeling displaced, I needed to be somewhere where I felt safe, and could regroup and start again.

That drive was THE most painful experience of my life. It was never-ending, and excruciating. Everything hurt. I assumed it was a hangover, but then Kara Simpson reminded me that I was working off of about 5 hours of sleep in a 48-hour period, so that helped to explain the distinct feeling of slow death.

Finally, I reached Corey, and spent the next day recovering and trying to figure out what was next. I slept like a baby, in a bed by myself (not random Swiss guys and hot chicks), and consumed absolutely no alcohol. Thank goodness for straight-edge friends. And thank goodness for Corey. 🙂

As the title of this post infers, I am currently in Asheville, North Carolina. I drove here yesterday, and spent the night in my first hotel – not only the first hotel of my trip, but the first hotel I’ve ever experienced by myself. I felt stupid spending money to sleep somewhere, but it was nice to not feel obligated to anyone, and be completely alone.

Of course, being completely alone eventually led to me talking to myself, a lot… but it’s all good. These things happen.

Woke up this morning, not hung-over and completely alone, which was divine, and walked downtown Asheville. Lots of artsy people and stores, and it was relaxing and enjoyable. I had been communicating online with this guy, Chris, from couchsurfing.com, and he had told me where he was working, so I stopped by to say hi and make sure he wasn’t a psychopath. He was, indeed, a non-psychopath, and we ended up having a great conversation, and making plans to meet up later. And that’s where I am now – at his apartment, with the beautiful view of the mountains and the sunset, feeling comfortable and completely non-violated. 🙂

Still in Hilton Head, SC

The last two days have involved gorgeous walks around Shipyard, thanks to the suggestion of Hollar, who has been trying to help me see my first alligator. Needless to say, it took me a WEEK to finally find one, but it was well worth the wait. You’ll have to see the video to really understand what I’m saying (yes there’s a video and no it’s not a dirty video)

video.php?v=507753995369

However, the walks (even sans the alligator) have been simply amazing. Today I realized that more than anything else, I’ve been walking. Not doing anything really special, anything too touristy, anything even very exciting. Yet almost every day since I drove away from Massachusetts has involved a long, long walk through woods and on trails. I have taken more gorgeous pictures in the last two weeks than I have in my lifetime, and there really isn’t a way for me to describe to you how satisfying that is for me.

It happened these past two days – I’ve wanted to cry from the beauty of the earth. I know that sounds ridiculously holistic, but it’s true. I felt this incredible swelling in my heart, much like love. But it was for the moment, for the light and the birds and the trees and the earth.

Last night I met two sets of interesting people. The first incident was at the Tiki Hut, where I walked to sit, have a cold soda, listen to some acoustic music, and read my book. Right when I walked in, this woman gave me the kindest smile, which although is very unique for me, is not an odd thing to have happen in South Carolina. So I smiled in return, sat at one of the back tables on the sand, and read for a while. However, one time that I looked up, she caught my eye, and beckoned me over to sit with her and her husband. I obliged, and before I knew it I was engaged with intelligent, spiritual, and slightly slurred conversation with Bonnie, while her husband, Donny (yes, Bonnie and Donnie) sardonically ignored as much as he could.

I figure that the fateful alignment of this meeting mostly involved the fact that Bonnie was an independent, almost 60-year-old woman. However, she was vibrant and lovely and very intelligent. She had her PhD., was accomplished in every area of her life, and I could BE her in 40 years. What she told me during that conversation was to “do it now” – to live my life, go after my dreams, and do it all now before it’s too late. She insisted that I was intelligent, I was beautiful, and I was responsible – and therefore I could not go wrong. But I had to keep doing exactly what I had started, and that she regretted not doing that herself.

It definitely inspired me, and was exactly the conversation I needed.

The second pair involved a 40-something truck driving/construction working guy named Frankie, and a younger, gregarious black guy named… fine, i forgot his name. The beautiful part of this story is the humor involving the fact that these were the guys I happened to attract at the bar, haha. Which was fine with me – I would much rather have a jovial conversation lacking in sexual awkwardness, than I would an intimate conversation lacking in intellectual stimulation. So Frankie and I talked, and it was wonderful, his friend there joined and started telling me who he’d “never been with a white woman” and shared with me how sexy I looked when a piece of my hair fell just like that over my eye…

And although i appreciated the participle of poetry located within that sentiment, I was still annoyed that he was corrupting my innocent moment with crudity.

The funny part was that I started writing this story here earlier today, and then this evening I walked over to the Tiki Hut, on my way to find something to eat for dinner, and randomly this guy beckons me over to smell his “jasmine.” Yes, that was a new one for me, but while I was telling him my name, Frankie overheard and made a joke. I was shocked to see him sitting there, outside at the bar, sipping a beer. But I was very happy to see him, especially since it gave me an excuse to gracefully run way from the jasmine guy. Funny how people come into our lives – Frankie is the nicest guy, very pleasant, intelligent, down-to-earth, and reminds me of a teddy bear. 🙂 My favorite kind of guy. Anybody that reminds me of my grandpa gets an A+ in my book… not that he was old enough to be my grandpa, but he held that air to him… that presence that makes me smile. And I hate how interactions are instantly labeled as either being picked up or not interested. I don’t understand why people can’t interact and learn about each other, care about each other… be with each other, in a moment, and have no expectations beyond that. Perhaps that’s too much to ask, but I’m going to keep valiantly trying for it.

Tomorrow I need to start planning the next leg of my journey. I definitely want to head back down to Savannah, and I’m waiting to hear back from Chas about whether or not I can annoy him and his wife for a bit, haha. 🙂 Stupidest birthday present he could have asked for! 😛



Disconnection, Day 9

Feeling disconnected today. That feeling where I’m here but my heart is elsewhere and my mind is hithertoforth and my breath is wherewithal…

If you know what I mean.

Just drank a delicious smoothie, which made everything a little bit better. Even though the tip of my tongue hurts. I think I burned it. No, not with the smoothie. Silly.

I have that listless, slightly befuddled, slightly hopeless feeling. I just get this way sometimes, most likely due to my over-analysis of every little thing, and my ability (or is it a curse?) to feel everything perhaps just a tad too acutely.

I’m just going to keep myself on the road, and eventually I’ll find my way. A door will open and I’ll peak inside, and suddenly be giddy with what lays ahead. I simply need to accustom myself to not always knowing what I’m doing, or where I’m going, or how I’m going to get there.

I miss love; I do. I miss the giddy feelings, I miss the grabbing and the kissing and the feeling that the sky is closer than the earth and the earth is closer than my dreams and my dreams are living, breathing entities I can touch and kiss and pull close to my body.

I have so much love to give. And I realize that one day I will have the opportunity to give it, honorably and completely, and (hopefully) to someone worthy of such love.

I’m hoping that Chas doesn’t mind my quoting of a message he sent me on Writer’s Cafe, but I feel the need to post it here, perhaps simply to remind myself of his words.

“I think what I’m hinting at is the same thing I always say when I review your works: Your essence is beautiful. It’s not just that you **have** a gift; you **are** a gift. We’re so lucky to have someone as genuine and artistic and thoughtful as you; I can’t say all the things that you’ve shown me in the two years since I’ve joined Writer’s Cafe (today’s my 2 year “anniversary”, actually). You just capture things with a different essence altogether than I could even think about enjoying.

So thank you. For everything. :)”

The sweetest thing ever. It made my morning to read it. I’ve received messages and had conversations with people lately that have been really inspiring and encouraging. Which is so important right now; if I was doing this all on my own, I would definitely have many more moments of weakness.

What’s next? Not sure. Georgia, then perhaps Florida, perhaps Tennessee. Maybe I’ll stay here for a few more days. I honestly have no idea. I guess partly because I need to allow this feeling to pass. And I wouldn’t mind a nice tan before I went anywhere else, haha. Replace the pasty white ghost look I’m currently sportin’. 😛



South Carolina

Well, that was a wonderful welcome to the island of Hilton Head, South Carolina. 🙂

I was really nervous, but Sarah welcomed me so nicely, and I felt way more comfortable than I anticipated. I definitely feel like this trip is going to do wonders for my anxiety, and my self-assurance. I barely questioned myself at all this evening. Okay, fine, the shot and the margarita might have helped… but normally nothing ca overpower my feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, especially with people who live in ways I fail at, haha. As I mentioned before – people who have FUN, haha. At least the standardized sort of fun.

Standardized fun. Hm. I’ve been failing that test for years. 😛

On a separate, completely serious note, it’s unbelievable how much my life has changed in a week. I feel like a different person, and I feel like millions of doors have opened up to me – and for the first time in a long time I’m actually excited about walking through them. It’s quite exhilarating. Quite quite.

During my travels today, I had time in the car to think about things. I thought a lot about human relationships, and the human heart, and the whole blasted thing. And for the first time in forever, I didn’t focus on the past. Strangely enough, I didn’t really think about the future either. I just… thought about the whole thing in general. How we feel, how we hurt, how we pine, how we ache.

And I thought about my personal strengths. I understand that the occasional weakness can allow one to feel a sense of freedom and abandonment, but I am strong, and I have strong, sometimes ridiculously honorable values.

Overall, a good thing.

And I suppose we’ll just leave that at that.

Strangely enough, these blogs, and my pictures, have allowed me to connect most with the people I’ve always wished to connect most with. If that makes any sense.

I guess when you run away and the only remnants of yourself that can be found are floating around in the world wide web in typed words and megapixels, you discover who really cares. Who supports you, and who validates your beauty.

So… you know who you are. And I adore you for it. 🙂

PS. stopped by South of the Border, SC (and from what I could discern it’s actually listed as a town on the map) and…

yeah, really sketched out by that place. LOL.

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