It’s been a minute since I’ve posted here.
…Would it shock you to learn that it’s because things are going so well?
By now, we are used to my freakouts, you and I. Starting with the early days, when I was sitting in a parking lot a mile from my parents’ house, building my stamina against loneliness, right up until last Christmastime in Portland, when I began the day with a wasted gift for a homeless man and ended in a puddle of rage on Joy’s floor.
If loose this cannon must be, it’s good to have a place where all that angst can land. I’ve heard from so many of you, telling me a lot of things in solidarity, the most affecting of which is that you’re listening. You have no idea how much that means: to have you listen. And not only listen, but continue talking to me.
But just after Christmas, things started changing.
I started getting more work…much of it on the strength of this here blog.
I have spent most of the past three months exploring one place.
Then there was this:
Followed shortly by this:
And lately there’s been this:
These days, I’m not having such a hard time buying gasoline or coffee. (And those serial killer-voiced Shylocks from Total Higher Education can look forward to a big fat pound of flesh, thanks to the book I’ve been commissioned to ghostwrite.) People who before looked at me skeptically are now looking at me with…well, credence, if nothing else. And my little friend Jack White, whenever I show up at his door, says,
“It’s the story lady! Do you have any new stories?”
I don’t know who I am in this kinder light, and I wasn’t sure if you’d like me.
Dude. I like being this person.
Hardship and fearful trials teach you things about yourself, to be sure. But for some folks, like me, they can make you start to feel that they are the only way you know yourself.
And strangely, it’s hard to make the shift into being the person I wanted to be…I’ve become so used to being the never-not-angsty person. I sort of felt like that was my dues–that combination of doubt and rage, a stiff upper lip and a trembling lower one–for doing something I love so much.
And frankly, I wasn’t sure you’d still like me, now that the harsh light of reality has grown kinder.
But I needn’t have worried.
You guys are nice.
Enough of you have written me letters–gorgeous letters of solidarity and support and earnest questioning–that, if I ever doubted it, remind me what an immense privilege it is that this has lasted as long as it has, and that it’s really not anything of me that deserves it. The average donation to the Gasoline Fund have nearly tripled in the last 6 weeks alone.
I know you’re out there, now. It made me so happy…and then I was like, “Oh, shit–what do they want from me?”
Here’s the thing: even if I knew what you wanted, I don’t know that I could be it. I can’t live everyone’s nomadic life for them. But I am so, so very glad you’re here. You’re the only ones I know who really get this part of me–who not only recognize it, but feel the same. I want to hang out with you more. I want to know what you’re thinking. I want you to talk to each other, too, while I listen. Let’s all be in on this conversation.
I may be “successful” right now…or succeeding, anyway. Who knows how long that will last. I may be encamped in Arizona, right now…who knows how long that will last, either.
But I’ve taken my temperature in the last few months since circumstances changed, and here are a few constants:
I still feel more drawn to lined faces and dirty fingernails and people singing in back alleys and crouching in the shade of bus stops than to anyone else.
No matter how many new friends I make, or how much money I pull in, there’s still no one willing to follow. In other words, I’m still as lonely as fuck.
I still feel most at home in the General’s front seat, with wind whistling and snarling in my hair as it passes through my front window and out the back.
So we still have those things in common.
I’m going to do my damnedest to get this thing updated more frequently than it has been, of late. More stories, primarily, and more travelogues. Bear with me as the turbine gets moving, won’t you?
In the meantime, keep writing. Tell me about yourselves. Send me some gas money, and I’ll send you a postcard from wherever you advise me to go. Share your favorite roadtrip songs and your tips for dive bars and dance halls and whatever else. Let’s talk to each other.
It’s what lonely folks do, out here.
(Oh, and if you like any of the nonsense advertised in the photos above, won’t you be a doll and leave a comment or indicate your social media approval? It makes my editors think I’m valuable.)