Saturday, September 29, 2012

What I've learned thus far, part 2...and my first blahs

I've learned that it's hard for me to receive help from people. Ok, I've always known that but with the situation I'm in and the Barter Van idea I have to swallow my pride. I have been looking after myself for so long I've taken on the attitude that I don't need anyone; I can do it all on my own. No man, or woman, is an island and no one gets through life simply relying on themselves. I am learning it's ok to accept help. I am also the type of person who would rather focus on other peoples problems rather than dealing with my own. Recently someone I met made a point of devoting the day to me and anything I want to do. I hadn't realized how hard that was for me to do. Maybe that's why I find it so comfortable to travel alone. That way I can do what I want and not feel guilty about the other person not fulfilling their desires. Then again, I can also be quite selfish. The good thing about being alone for long, and I mean long, periods of time on long stretches of road is I get ample amount of time to reflect on such topics.

Reality isn't so romantic. I dreamed about doing this for so long, especially Route 66, I hadn't realized how dismal parts of it truly are. Most of the time I drive through long stretches of flat farmland until I reach the next town. And when I say town I really mean a few buildings and closed up shops along with the one or two places doing their best to survive off the Routes lasting stigma. Other places don't even try to be part of it with only a couple houses remaining amongst the boarded up shops, motels and gas stations. I am at odds with being happy to find weathered old signs and coming upon the restored places. My creative side always likes finding the neglected but my nostalgia wants to see more restored places. I think my notions of the road trip remain romantic only in my head.
Kansas town restored because of Disney's movie Cars

Sign from motel turned apartment. Like so many along the route.
I remember people asking me why I want to do this and my response was always I want to know what it feels like to be free and see 'what I'm made of'. Reflecting on that, and being a month into my journey I don't think I know exactly what that means. It's true I am free of work and schedules but I still worry every day about my van breaking down and my money diminishing. I have chores and sometimes I think it's harder than when I was pampered with power and hot water at my fingertips. My ultimate goal is still elusive. Is it so I can say I did this? Is it so I don't regret not doing it when I'm old? Is it to return to Nova Scotia with a new body of work to have another exhibition? Is it to be free and see what the world has to offer? I answered yes to all of these questions before I left but the same questions linger...and more. I wonder if I am capable of going all the way across the US and back without succumbing to loneliness or fear of being stranded in the middle of nowhere. Luckily fear and doubt never last long with me and never stops me from doing what I started out to do. I know in the end if I was to quit now it would send me spiraling into a state of regret depression.

I share this now because I want to be completely frank about the ups and downs I experience. So many moments have been amazing and things do seem like they are falling into place but after spending two days driving without really meeting anyone I've become a bit tired and lonely. I decided to check into a motel, get beer and watch tv. I haven't zoned out in front of the tube in a month and it seems like a luxury now. The motel is gross but it was cheap and the woman at the desk was nice. I tried to barter with a few other old motels but there was no takers. I asked to pay a fraction of the cost of a room to just park in the motels lot for the night but was turned down. So many of these old motels have lost their luster and have become seedy places for people to live. I slept poorly thinking about my van and all of its contents. The one saving grace for this stop over, well maybe two, is the mind-numbing television and the guy I met at the car dealership next door. We only spoke for a moment when I went out to get beer and he immediately offered his help with anything I need. I invited him over for a drink but he worked late and had to decline. In the morning he showed up at my door with coffee before he had to return to work. And the kindness of strangers continues.

There are still many things that make me happy. Simple things like having just enough butane left to make coffee or seeing my first stick bug or armadillo. I don't want to leave this post on a bad note but thought it was important to tell the WHOLE story and not just the wonderful parts. Now, as I sit in McDonald's parking lot I am torn between moving on or staying to hang with my new acquaintance. It's always the decision to keep moving or to take an extra day. I am in the town of Will Rogers birthplace and maybe I should take time to visit the museum etc. I guess my next post will tell what I've decided.

Lastly, I want to thank people for taking this journey with me. I know even at the down times I'm not alone. I appreciate the encouragement more than you know and will adjust my attitude back to the free spirited, fun-loving, adventurous person I know I am.


  1. I just re-read John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" when we were traveling to California last week, and he was struggling with many of the things you mention, so you're in good company. And you're good to mention the crap stuff as well as the good stuff, the romance of the road can be wonderful, but there are long stretches of nothing, depressing, sketchy. Keep on goin, gal!

  2. Dad was asking about you today. He had his surgery last week; wants to follow you while he's recouping ;0)I'm sending along your link.

    I miss the hell outta ya, but I feel good knowing you're on the road, where you belong, be it for a while, or just today. Today, you're where you are supposed to be.

    xox -R

  3. The photograhs are amazing: Thanks for for sharing it all with us, good and bad. It takes courage to venture out of our comfort zone; it's not easy seeing a lot of towns that have fallen on hard times, either. But you have a wonderful gift for connecting with people. You're living your dream right now, but that doesn't mean it's all gonna be great. Sharing your down times with us will make it less lonely, though. You know we're reading your posts and following your journey and sending our thoughts of love and support along the way. - Judy

  4. Thanks Judy. I appreciate your words a lot and yes, it does make me feel less lonely knowing I have people 'with' me. I wouldn't change a thing about this whole journey. Everything leads to something else and it's all valuable. xo

  5. Love the honesty, this is the juicy stuff we want to hear about. Your writing is great. Endless talent missy, endless.
    Be careful out there, have fun!
    xo, kim