A rhythm to the road

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Yoga to soothe and reenergize

If I’m not listening to something on the car stereo, I love listening to the lull of the road. Strips of rough pavement separate the smoothly paved parts, and the car thumps predictably between the two like a baby carriage over cracks in the sidewalk.

There is a rhythm to traveling. When you hit the right pace, days flow by while time is suspended, not essential in the way it is essential when other people are counting on you to be somewhere at a certain time.

This rhythm varies by trip. On this trip, the pace I liked best was two nights in each location. One night to get my feet grounded, one night to explore. Enough to take a breath without diluting the mystery a new locale holds in the air.

It is a bit trickier to find this rhythm when on tour.  It takes some of the flexibility and spontaneity out of the traveling to have booked gigs on specific dates – although it is a tradeoff balanced by the benefits of meeting such wonderful communities along the way.  I could only keep that pace up for so long, however, and two weeks ago in Asheville I crashed. I was inexplicably exhausted, and slept like a teenager for four days. I suppose I can only say – it happens.

Tea shops are great for this kind of fatigue – I spent two days in Dobra Tea in Asheville. So are kind friends who let you stay in their houses longer than planned (thank you, Rick!). So are blank journal pages and yoga pants.

I keep pushing on. Keep pushing north.

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Joy: A Waterlogged Travel Log

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Morning joy and dance in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Yesterday I put my feet in the ocean for the first time in over a year. Technically it was the Potomac river, but it had sand and seashells and strong waves and felt like the ocean except for the fact that you could see land on the other side of the water.

A few days ago while camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I encountered a fog so thick I had to stop driving.

When I go to bed every night, my sheets feel damp and the pages of my book are clammy.

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Mist in the Blue Ridge Mountains

I’m still drinking water like I’m in the desert. I’m visiting lots of public bathrooms.

In short, water is everywhere. I keep warily eyeing the trees and ponds and rivers that I see now on a daily basis. I don’t trust them. I half expect them to disappear. I suppose after four years in the desert, I can’t quite let myself believe that I am really back in the forests to stay. That no one is going to make me leave.

That I may once again think that it is unremarkable to be surrounded by green things.

Yes, we are one nation.

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Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

This country is big. HUGE. And while there are many differences across the states, we are also all ridiculously, similarly human. I present a handful outrageously over-simplified findings from over three weeks on the road:

  1. People are bad drivers everywhere. I repeat, everywhere.
  2. Mexican is the go-to cheap, yummy food that you have when visitors are in town.
  3. There are kind, generous people everywhere – they let you stay in their houses and feed you and show you around their town.
  4. Using turn signals has gone out of style.
  5. Using the left lane for passing only has also gone out of style.

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    Straddling the Texas-New Mexico state line

  6. People are fiercely proud of the place they live; regardless of whether they moved there and never regretted it, or whether they feel ambivalent and/or mildly trapped there, it is home and is something to be loved.
  7. Having visitors is a good excuse to revisit your favorite places.

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    Inside the Texas state capitol building

  8. People have very strong opinions about where you park.
  9. Outside of New Mexico, a New Mexico license plate is an oddity to be stared at.
  10. Anywhere, a car that is packed full to the gills is an oddity to be stared at.

 

On routines and their impending lack

I have a pretty set routine, most days. Wake up early, breakfast, go to work, work, come home, relax/do something fun/do other work.

Shaking up this routine always spurs an intensely creative period. It just happened when I moved from my old apartment to a new house. For about a week, I had a nonstop outpouring of writing. I will be moving to a house-sit house for the summer in June, and am sure it will happen again.

I can’t wait for the several weeks on the road – no routine, no familiarity but my own company. If I were a songwriter I might write an album’s worth of songs. If I were a novelist I might write the first few chapters of my next work. Since I’m neither of these, I’ll settle for writing a few new good dances and essays, and maybe rekindling my dormant love of my Canon DSLR:

Here’s to unpredictability, and rechargeable camera batteries.