Thursday, May 22 1:37p.m.
I have this magic power of making people cry.
Usually these people aren’t crying about me or because I’ve done something terrible. In fact, usually these people hardly know me at all. But somehow I invite people to cry about their dysfunctional marriages, their lost loved ones, their broken hearts, without consciously doing so.
I left Norman, Oklahoma at around 2a.m. Monday morning. All night my driver and I talked about climate change, government, corporate power, and how much we’d love to just move onto farms far from everything. He was driving a freight truck, so as the sun rose we stopped to pick up our load (honestly I have no idea what the thing was). I immediately fell asleep in the little bed he’d built in the back seat, and got a couple hours rest.
When I woke up, my driver seemed sad. He’d gotten off the phone with his daughter’s preschool teacher, and she’d gotten in trouble, not for the first time, for punching other kids and pushing them down. Her teacher thinks she may be overwhelmed and unable to communicate well about her feelings. The conversation soon turned to my driver’s wife, who has isolated him from his friends and who is verbally abusive, but whom he is afraid to divorce because he is terrified of losing custody of his three-year-old girl, the light of his life. He has never told this story to anyone before. By the end of our conversation, he was in tears.
Part of me just thinks that people feel comfortable telling me things because I’m a traveller and so will not be a part of their daily lives or social communities. Part of me really believes I have some sort of magic power that forces deep personal secrets out of people. Mostly I think people are just dying to say their feelings out loud, that everyone is suffering, that few people are willing to listen.
The rest of our trip was full of political arguments and sex talks, and we spent the first night with some friends of mine in Fort Collins, Colorado. The students at Colorado State have just moved out of their dorms, so we rode bikes out to the university dumpsters, and my driver, a forty-one year old father and business owner, went dumpster diving for the first time. We had a blast, digging up food, soap, toilet paper, art supplies. I found a pair of bright orange booty shorts and a tiara, which I think officially means I’m a trash princess. Dumpster diving is probably one of the best ways to introduce someone to radical culture. You can’t ever forget that first time seeing the volume of great stuff that ends up in the garbage.
He wants to get a tattoo that says:
“I want my shit back. — Mother Nature”
Our next night we spent at a beautiful private campsite (we ignored the No Trespassing signs) in Park City, Utah surrounded by Birch trees and a beautiful stream. We watched a movie, drank Strawberry ale, and reheated some Mexican food, and then I set up my tent and slept under the stars.
I was not able to keep from telling my sweetheart that I was coming, and I arrived a total mess, butterflies all throughout my body. Touching him after all this time was so healing. I’ve heard that happy people share at least ten hugs a day. My hug needs are probably higher, but it’s hard to meet that quota when I’m traveling because I’m lucky if I even meet ten people a day, and not everyone is as excited about hugging as I am. So spending all night cuddling with my sweetheart, and successfully surprising my best friend and crush and cuddling with her and her partner felt like it immediately fixed a lot of the wounds I’ve felt the last month.
Today I’m wearing my new dumpstered leopard print bathing suit and heading down to the river to go swimming. Next week I’ll be back on the pipeline route, probably in Kansas or Nebraska, but for now I’m letting go of all that stress and anger and seeking happiness.