Monday August 25th, 10a.m.
About five minutes after we got to the on-ramp, we were dripping with sweat.
“Fuck this,” said Sweetheart. “I’m going to take a bus.”
It was 112 degrees in Phoenix. Somehow I switched into power mode, and I had total confidence we were going to get a ride. I was waving signs for Tuscon and dancing, and in fact, after ten brutal minutes, a semi-truck pulled to the side of the on-ramp, and we were saved. Our driver had a thick Alabaman accent, and he had bought us ice water.
So we made it safely to Tuscon, where we stayed in a house with a pigeon coop in the backyard, learned how to make our own paper, and watched monsoons rage from the roof.
It was here that our paths intersected with the Hunger Artists, the band we’ve planned to tour with. We played an awesome show with them, and were really excited about their music (hungerartists.bandcamp.com).
The next morning we piled our backpacks and instruments into the back of their beat-up white touring van and set off. Their singer had just gotten in trouble with his companions, and so he was asked to “choose his own punishment”. He chose ice cream. We downed a pint of ice cream while they asked unsuccessfully for gas money.
The rest of our trip together was kinda a blur of spanging at gas stations. Sweetheart and I would post up with a “Money for Gas” sign at McDonalds, and somehow make enough to get us down the road. Our traveling companions stress level about getting where we were going was incredibly low. We spent hours and hours hanging out at gas stations, doing nothing in particular, while no one asked for money. When we got a few dollars, they seemed more excited about snacks than gas.
It was in many ways inspiring to be around people who gave so few fucks, but Sweetheart and I grew tired of gas stations, and so we asked to be let out in Santa Barbara. I immediately tore off my shoes and ran into the ocean. After six months away from her, it felt good to be home. We spent the night wandering around playing music and looking for food. We settled on a sushi restaurant, and as we ate dinner, Sweetheart pulled a note out of his wallet and handed it to me.
The note had been written moments before we met up in Ohio, about his hopes for our relationship. Incredibly, all the wild and romantic expectations I had waiting to meet up with him have become reality, and reading his note I could feel this incredible adventure come to a close, tied together perfectly.
In a euphoric haze we wandered back to the ocean and climbed a tree to set up camp on the roof of a bike shop. In the morning I woke up and saw the ocean in full daylight. Sweetheart went off to meet a friend, so I wandered down the pier to take in the beauty of the coast. Off in the distance, I thought I saw a fin. Then another. A whole school of dolphins was swimming right by me.
“Welcome back,” said the Ocean. “Never leave me again.”
I was in tears.
That night one of my best friends in the world came and picked us up and drove us to Santa Cruz, where we met up with my platonic life partner, and as Sweetheart crashed out, the three of us drove out to the cliffs overlooking the ocean and cuddled up with a bottle of wine, to talk about academia and social change, polyamory, travel, and Marx.
All of which is to say, I’m home. I’d love to write some epic reflecting on all that’s happened in the last six months, but that will have to be sometime down the road when I’ve been able to process the chaos. For now, I’m finishing the last couple shows along with the Hunger Artists, visiting my parents, getting ready to start living on a sailboat.
I’m so happy.