Saturday, November 8, 2008

?, GA: And now for something we hope you'll really like

Miles RAN since last blog: ?

Ok, not as prepared with town and mileage as normal, but what can I do with a midday blog?

As I am running on time according to my month's schedule, but a day behind for couchsurfing request, it was decided by me last night that I would attempt to run the entire 66+ miles to my next host today. It deserves to be said that my companion, Free, and I, are very different in numerous ways. For instance, I like to push my own limits and Free likes to push other people's limits. The line of reasoning was more or less similar last night, "well, it'll at least be an interesting story." This seems to be a main argument when I decide on a course of action.

I knew I would need a good night's rest if I was to attempt this. Free went to bed, then C. (the girl we were staying with), and finally I headed into my room where I spent my time editing footage until about 2 a.m. My inner sadist decided that this was probably enough of a challenge for the next day and I headed off to dreamland.

I dreamt of flying, that would make this easier. It's possible that this was spurred on by Free and I wishing to skydive, but it's expensive so we decided to use it as a celebration when we arrive in Cali. In a theoretical universe, Free and I would have some of our dichotomy sharply illustrated with this adventure.

Upon Free's arrival at the Skydive takeoff point, the conversation might go something like this:

Insturctor: "I think that's one of those parachutes they use for dropping tanks off in the desert."

Free: "Uh huh,"

Ins: "Well, I don't think you need all of that. And are those a few extra parachutes strapped to your side?"

Free: "Yeah, I had room so I thought I'd bring them."

Ins: "Is that a french press hooked to your belt?"

Upon my arrival I would however rush onto the plane and jump out at altitude without a parachute thinking, "Surely if I had really needed a parachute someone would have given one to me by now."

The instructor would then jump out of the plane to catch and save me, when he caught up to me I would probably invite him along and offer to buy him lunch since he brought the parachute.

In any case, I forgot to set my alarm and got up at 9:30. Being late there seemed no reason to hurry. I wandered about the house eating pop tarts and slowly packing up. Our host assumed I wouldn't run since there was no temporal possibility for me to arrive in Atlanta today. This did not deter me however, it just made me relaxed and slow. I headed out at a slow jog. before two miles were up I was thinking that I had had a very bad idea. As is often the case though, after the first hour things seemed to fall in line. I ran on the flat and downhills and walked fast uphill. I picked a very cold and windy day to try this out. I had under 60 miles to go when hunger drove me indoors, after a meal I'd be ready to head out and destroy my body even further.

I was however, saved by the bell, or rather the Austin Powers theme song on Free's phone, courtesy of E., Free's friend in Greenville who had set up the TV interviews for me. The sign and business cards had arrived and she could drive halfway to meet Free and hand them off. While I was waiting for Free for lunch I begin to slowly freeze. Having sweat soaked through my shirt and being in an air conditioned restaurant was doing me no favors but giving me plenty of time to think about the way I was going about things. As often happens, I decided I was stupid and that I was now much more intelligent than I had been seconds before. When Free arrived I decided to go with him because it sounded more fun.

It was, probably, I suppose we'll never really know. The thing that I have noticed is that I expect this trip to be a wonderful and life changing experience, but then find myself desperately trying to remain rigidly the same in some aspects. I want to walk the USA, that much is true, but all the limits and time constraints and rules that exist around it are self inflicted. I started this venture with an aspiration to set myself outside of the normal world in a permanent way, to never return to the life that society carves out for us and we complacently accept, but things aren't always what you think they'll be, sometimes they are much more.

I got a tattoo of the world map on my leg this summer (even though Antarctica is suspiciously absent I consider this future planning with the Greenhouse effect). Tattoos, I think, are a lot like children. They are rarely exactly what you imagined but you grow to love them anyway. Originally, I got my tattoo as a commitment to see the world and continue traveling, but this summer during my survival school I looked down and realized that it was something much more to me suddenly, even if the old meaning was still there too. When I look down at that tattoo now I notice I always look for the spot that I am on within it, and that the whole rest of the world is still there silently putting me into context as tiny and knowing that any waves I feel don't even appear in the world view. From here, we all look peaceful and serene, and that's enough to make you feel that way as well.

Walking out of my old life I expected a change, and I got it. I wanted to escape the regular world and then created it around me and had to remove myself again. Even now when I get down to the core personal meaning of this walk I realize it was always about living my life as I wanted to and that the only person left keeping me from that was me. So, in the place where so many epiphanies have surely taken place, a KFC in Georgia, I decided that i would let go of a few of my rules and take down a few more of the bars I had set up to jump over. I wanted to walk across the USA and that is what I'll do, my way. I'll walk when I want to walk, as far as I want to walk. I'll stop when i want and stay an extra day somewhere if I like.

I don't know if I am looking for enlightenment, trying to save the world or become the man I always believed I was, but I suppose I'll figure that out at a McDonald's.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the snowglobe. It's a bit cloudy in here... now it's not... now it is... now it's not. Either way, both views are pretty amazing! E!

E said...

Skip, when Peter Jenkins reached the area you guys are now on his walk across America, he discovered a cult called The Farm. It's still there.

Could be an interesting side trip.