Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Home is where your head rests

I'm en route back east to Ft. Lauderdale and its bittersweet. I'm feeling very nostaglic, which makes me want to make lists.

In the past 9 months, I've visited 22 states, countless cities and traveled more miles than I can currently calculate. However, I can share that I've lived in a lot of interesting spaces over the past year. I've been in some places for just a night, and others for weeks. I've slept on an air mattress, a couch, a guest room bed and even the cozy floor. I always had my own pillow and sleeping bag, but where they've rested has varied greatly. As of today, I've "lived" in the following places since last May:

  • friend's living room/ guest room (all over)
  • friend's guestroom (all over)
  • zen center (gainesville, fl)
  • tent on the beach (jacksonville, fl)
  • bunk cabin at the hostel in the forest (brunswick, ga)
  • strangers' guestrooms and living rooms (all over, and most of them aren't strangers anymore)
  • family's guestroom (va, st. louis, mo)
  • cabin (sheffield, vt)
  • a paid for hotel (a few nights here and there)
  • loft above a woodshed, complete with ladder and trapdoor to get in (marshall, nc)
  • cozy tent, and a wet tent, unsuccessfully sealed with garbage bags (chestertown, ny)
  • an awesome bachelorized version of a great grandfather's farmhouse (chestertown, ny)
  • enclosed front porch (amsterdam, ny)
  • a bunkbed in a senetor's lake house (jamestown, pa)
  • farmhouse (zanesville, oh; concho, az)
  • basement bedroom in Obama's Chicago neighborhood (chicago, il)
  • a free hotel courtesy of a couchsurfer employee (undisclosed location to protect identities)
  • Chinatown apartment (new york, ny)
  • within a block of Central Park (new york, ny)
  • bike room on foldout chair cushions (brattleboro, vt)
  • attic of a refurbished 3 story home (buffalo, ny)
  • home office (wichita, ks)
  • classroom in a church basement (greensburg, ks)
  • dingy motel (slab city, az and springer, nm)
  • living room bed in big college student house (san luis obispo, ca)
  • yoga studio (santa barbara, ca)
  • Kerouac cabin (big sur, ca)
  • photo studio (oakland, ca)
  • double wide trailer (new orleans, la)
  • converted 20th century schoolhouse (new orleans, la)
I still have a few nights to go, so we'll see where my pillow ends up. What a fantastic journey its been...

Flower Child? Well, I do love flowers...

“I've been trying to buy more food from local organic farms, you know, better for the environment, supporting local business, its really refreshing to be in places that you can find good things.”

“Oh god, are you like a full on hippie now, not shaving your armpits too?!”

Spurred by this recent conversation with an old friend, I began to wonder, “What is a hippie?” What was a hippie and what is one these days? And why does your level of hippieness always relate to personal grooming habits?

In 1965 Webster decided that a hippie was “usually a young person who rejects the mores of established society (usually by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic.” Wiki now gives a much longer explanation, including tie dye clothing, LSD and VW buses. 

I don't own any tie dye, I don't do LSD and I drive a Honda, not a VW. But I like knowing where my food comes from, and that it damages the earth in the least amount possible. I suppose that may count as “rejecting the more of established society” if you consider how many people either don't know or don't care. I've been traveling for just over 9 months working on small farms, staying with new friends (read: strangers) and  bartering work for food and place to stay, so does any of that count as “communal living”? Does sharing resources and working in exchange for a place to stay as opposed to being paid and then paying rent mean I'm a hippie? And if so, how many people does it take living together before it changes from “roommates” to “communal”? I also would like to buy clothes that aren't made by  slaves on the other side of the world - is that “unconventional attire”? And I don't advocate bombing the hell out of every country who doesn't look and talk like us just so someone can earn some more money. Are these “hippie” morals and values? 

I don't think I'm a hippie, certainly not in the 1965 definition, and not by the common connotation, (again, not enough tie dye) but what I am? I care about the world enough to make educated choices that I know lessen my negative impact on it. I care about what I spend my money on, trying to support those who are doing good and avoiding those doing evil. I don't require many things that can be bought in order to be happy. I don't eat meat. I do like sandals though, and a good drum circle around a fire makes me smile. I don't think I'm active enough to be an “activist”. I haven't held any picket signs recently, although I have signed a few petitions lately (electronically of course). I don't need to be tripping to have intellectual conversation, I will always shave my armpits, and I enjoy being able to pay my bills by myself, so I think that may kick me out of the “hippie” club. 

So what do you call me, or rather us, because I know its not just me who fits into this category of earth loving, community building, happy souls who just want things to be a bit better, because we know they can be.  (Oh man, what a hippie thing to say!)

Photo: Pacific Coast Highway, CA

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Thank You Note

Dearest Dorothy,
What would I do without you my friend?  I truly don't know where I would turn if I didn't have you by my side to guide me. Some people have mentors or spiritual leaders, but I have you; you who guide me almost daily during critical times. Sometimes when I am lost and confused, I find myself calling out your name for help, and Dorothy, you always come through. 

My journey over the last 9 months has been overwhelming at times. I've found myself asking, “Where should I go? Which way should I turn?”, and usually, it was you that answered that for me, you were always there. We've been in some tough spots together, but we've managed to always make it through the obstacles and the roadblocks, even it it meant detouring from the original plan. 

I'm sorry that sometimes I get frustrated with you and lose faith that you'll steer me in the right direction. Sometimes I yell and get angry and I apologize for that; I know you always have the best intentions as my friend and my guide. You have to admit though, you're advice isn't always 100% right. You tend to overestimate your accuracy, and even lose touch with your guiding principles from time to time. Regardless though, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for your guidance and reliability. I couldn't have done this journey without you and I don't know how others survive without a friend like you. 

Love always,

P.S. Just for old times sake, I thought I would include this great photo of you. What a fun day that was together!