Walden and I come to the end of our road
After Savannah I knew this trip to be over. The four weeks spent criss-crossing the American South had left me wearied and quite literally poor. I’d wrung all I could from this road, for now anyway. I longed for some stationary place to rest my head, a soft pillow; maybe even, god forbid, some semblance of a routine. It was a good experiment, lessons which I’ll carry forward. This shuffling-around time gave me new appreciation for what I might have taken for granted, such things as familiar company and grounded roots and instant hot water (actually, my year in India prepared me for that last one).
Perhaps the most dear to me will be the summer months I spent renovating the old camper with my parents, the hot days under the Midwest sun, my father at the table saw, my mother staining boards and talking with me about color schemes. That time with them made it all worth while. These are the chances that someday will be gone. Walden gave me moments with my mom and dad. tweet
I’m afraid I made all this look more glamorous than really it was. I had left home with little more than a thousand dollars, so the narrative always contained frugality. My hopes to work from the road didn’t materialize. Only able to afford campgrounds every fifth day or so, most nights I slept in truck stops or parking lots. This wasn’t quite my vision. There was no solitude and silence and mirror-like mountain lake, but the sound of teenagers collecting shopping carts and tractor trailers releasing their air brakes and cars blowing past on the interstate. My Walden Pond became Wal-Mart. (My paternal grandmother, who loves shopping at the discount super-center, would have thoroughly enjoyed this trip—the Panama City Wal-Mart was exquisite.) But this is the world we live in. Silence and solitude wasn’t the goal anyhow.
I’ve returned to Missouri and am exploring work opportunities in New York. Quite possibly I’ll have to sell Walden for down payment on an apartment and a car. Parting will sting, but it’s certainly no tragedy. I’ll take heart in the memories we had. There are some fond ones. Perhaps the most dear to me will be the summer months I spent renovating the old camper with my parents, the hot days under the Midwest sun, my father at the table saw, my mother staining boards and talking with me about color schemes. That time with them made it all worth while. These are the chances that someday will be gone. Walden gave me moments with my mom and dad.
I want to say thank you to those who supported me on this little adventure. It’s easy to doubt oneself when living against the grain and the encouragement given by so many bolstered and invigorated me. Some, who I won’t embarrass by naming here, donated a few dollars to keep me warm at night. They and many others gave me words to cheer me. I’m so grateful for these friends, some who I hadn’t heard from in years, and hopefully I inspired a few with my sharing. They were always there with me on the road.
“God, I’m so envious of you,” he said. “I wish I could do what you’re doing, but I have kids and a house. You keep going, man. You’re living my dream.” tweet
One late night on a Louisiana interstate I was pulled over by a state trooper. He said I’d been swerving too close to the centerline and he was probably right—Walden was often pushed by winds. He came to my window suspicious of a single guy in an old RV with the word ‘Tumbleweed’ on the back, no doubt thinking I was the mastermind behind some major marijuana ring. I smiled and answered his questions: “Where have you come from? Where are you going?” The first question was easier. He took my papers and told me to stay put.
When he returned he was grinning; I think he’d checked out my website.
“God, I’m so envious of you,” he said. “I wish I could do what you’re doing, but I have kids and a house. You keep going, man. You’re living my dream.”
He handed back my papers and wished me good luck. He wasn’t the only one to share such sentiments with me. I’ll admit that now there is a sense I failed that man and the others, that somehow I gave up and let them down. A friend said such guilt is absurd, that it is my mindset that people envy—the leaping, not where I land. I don’t know. I only know there is never a going backwards. We take with us every experience and each brings us closer to some truth we can’t yet see. That police officer’s family, his house, were not obstacles in his way, but the most beautiful pieces of his life. That is what I would wish him to know. He need never envy a precocious little squirt like me.
That police officer’s family, his house, were not obstacles in his way, but the most beautiful pieces of his life. That is what I would wish him to know. He need never envy a precocious little squirt like me. tweet
Obviously my adventures will continue. Who knows what diabolical plan life has in store! I’ll keep this little Tumbleweed Diary rolling. I dig rambling nonsensical on occasion, telling stories, and I hope that my sharing helps others realize who they are and what lives they are leading, something beautiful, that lacks nothing but acceptance. Peace can be found in any circumstance, even in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Love and live from the heart. To thine own self be true. See you again shortly.