I thought maybe a good time to make my tip-toe'd entrance back to my beloved blog, would be this lovely
thanksgiving holiday. I've taken a recent leave from "blog maintenance" (something I do from time to time to ensure things stay fresh on my part); and since I figured today is a day where most of you are probably stealthily sneaking away from over-fed, wine flooded, family affairs, in favor of face-book, twitter, and football- I thought maybe Thanksgiving would be a nice time to make a triumphantly modest return, and assess where I'm AT, and where I WAS. Kind of a "Now and Then," type gimmick, if you follow. Perhaps the latter of these two is the most interesting vantage point to use in this "critical assessment," so that's where I'll start.
ONE YEAR AGO FROM TODAY...
Myself and "The Great B.O.," were eating a lovely thanksgiving dinner with an all-american, all-marine family called the "Bowels," in Jacksonville N. Carolina. Before I follow through in this direction though, allow me to top you off with some context...
About one week earlier, I had arrived in Charlotte N.C. after a substantial explosion in our original trio's, original plans back in the midwest. By all measures of the account, things had gone purely to hell. After nearly one month of living together in a pop-up camper in Minnesota, all three of us were now, barely on talking terms. After countless disputes, Me and Dylan left MN, and receded back to Milwaukee with sure plans to continue this journey without B.O.
I spent a few weeks being uselessly depressed, and focusing on our initial departure as having been a catastrophic failure. And although in the beginning Dylan claimed to still be with me on continuing what we had built up publicly to be, "The Last Great american Journey," I quickly saw, much to my isolated dismay, that he wasn't going to be departing with me anymore. He was happily settling with B.O.'s older sister Karen- a detail of great drama at the time- and there was little more I could do about it, then give him my blessings, and pretend our talk of meeting up "later down the road," was as real as it was from the beginning. Even as a "man-ish" boy I still was at this instance, I had already learned from the outset of our trip: that a man must do, what a man feels he must do. External interventions, or debate simply won't do. We are scholars built of trial and error, and even error offers comfort with routine.
I worked my way out of the creative funk I was in, and began writing and making art again. I decided that I would set out for N. Carolina, to avoid the ensuing winter, and spend a week or two with B.O.'s younger brother, Mark, while I got a plan together. Me and B.O. were still not on speaking terms, and as I had very little money, I decided I was going to sell my pop-up camper and truck on Craigslist, and travel alone. Before long, I had turned the old truck, and weathered pop-up camper that had been given to me as a college graduation present, into 1,400.00 and I was ready to go.
Within the final week before departing for the second time, I found out to my dismay that B.O had already made it down to N.C., and was also now staying with Mark for the same reasons as I. Within that week, he called me and offered an apology as if nothing had ever happened. Though I may have wanted to keep up my fence, I sincerely missed B.O., and was perhaps as frightened as I was determined to begin my travels again. In short, I knew he was my comrade in this twisted dream we had concocted, and when he picked me up in Charlotte, it didn't take long for us to rekindle the spirit of our Journey. Back to Thanksgiving with the Bowels though...
Although they really were genuinely considerate folks, who did indeed show us a thing or two about unconditional hospitality; Me and B.O. were from the outset, particularly whiney about stepping into unfamiliar domestic realms on Thanksgiving, the holey of all whole-ly family feasts. In defense, or better put, justification- of our initial poor attitudes, is the fact that the two options on the table, were a traditional dinner with the Bowel family, OR, a "Thanksgiving Buffet," offered at a local Jacksonville strip club called, "The Cave."
Obviously, me and B.O. had been rooting for "The Cave," while Brother Mark, a 5th year marine having spent plenty of time in "The Cave" in his day, and who recently had been finding his kicks with Ol' Jesus and the house-of-the-lord, was, needless to say, in favor of something a bit more traditional. Me and B.O. had very little to argue about with him, since we couldn't really afford our small hitch-hiking funds to be put toward strippers. Mark was quite fond of the "Bowel" family anyhow, so as vagabond guests to our great brother, we had little more intention then griping a bit, and pre-drinking ourselves to an appropriately festive state.
So as usual, me and B.O. meticulously scrolled through the beer inventory as we have been doing with short funds throughout a great deal of the United States this past year, and unsurprisingly, the best oz. to dollar calculation we came up with, landed us between Keystone Light, and Milwaukee's Best 30 packs. We opted for the Keystone to avoid further judgements of alcoholism, among what we were assuming was a fairly pristine family setting. You don't need to do much traveling to learn that "Milwaukee's Best," is seen as a national trademark of the broken-down alcoholic in most any other region. It's viewed no differently than any forty in a tattered brown bag, or any given variety of malt liquor. It does do what Milwaukee does best- get you really drunk, for really cheap; but I can't say it improves what little of Milwaukee's reputation the rest of the country actually knows of. On this matter, I can be positive.
So, with Brother Mark's beloved jeep high-tailin' through the narrow roads of the wooded, marine-base town, me and B.O. put down what we could in beer, and clowned around with Mark about what remarkably "obtuse" outsiders me and B.O. would be to the whole family. And although I was a bit nervous, I knew me and B.O. excelled in the art of "Knowing How To Be," a simple virtue my grandmother had ingrained in me before passing on, and an invaluable social skill for one to have on the road.
Short story long, it was an entirely pleasant experience, and an astounding treat-of-a-meal for two wayward traveler's to be lucky enough to indulge in. It was also one of the first of many situations we would come across on our travels, where the capacity and kindness of the human spirit really outshine's ones expectations. A naysayer might easily argue that we were treated as such, through our association with Mark- perhaps even rightly; but now here, just one year later, I can honestly tell you that I've seen a helluva lot- and that even yet- the best of us all, is truly closer to our nature, and to our hearts, then we know or believe. The cosmetic stigma's we focus on- the fear, the apprehension, the doubt (not just in ourselves, but in all-selves), are a reflection of our daily condition. The conditions we wear to work, or in the street, or in the store. Like clothing, these conditions are removable, yet again like clothing, we will never truly be encouraged to remove them.
One thing I can be thankful for (to entice the topical matter of Thanksgiving at hand), is I can honestly say that I've left myself helpless to the elements, and I've come out of it having seen the best of us. After really seeing that, it becomes harder and harder to see the worst in people.
WHERE ARE WE NOW? (ultimately un-seperable from "where are we going")
Whooooo-ee, thats a crazy question to consider. Before even attempting to answer the question, maybe I should address it first. Who really is "WE"?
"WE" is whoever I'm with during the evolution of what is being aptly titled a journey. In considering my life as a story then, it is the main characters. For now, that namely continues to consist of my wonderful girlfriend "Chastaine Ellyn Tallon," And of course, a lifetime brother, "The Great B.O."
Looking back, I have a hard time believing that it's really only barely been over a year since our first attempts at the vagabond lifestyle. It has been an evolving process, ever catering this haphazard style of life, to the goals we are continually setting for ourselves.
In this short time, Me and B.O. (and most recently, Chassy) have had strange (to say the least) living situations hitching on the roadside from N.C. to S. Florida; living in a pop-up camper in Minnesota; couch-surfing through Austin TX for a stretch; Ride-sharing galore - as passengers, AND drivers, through the TX Panhandle, into the magnificent SW rockabilly saloons in Albuquerque; up through Santa Fe, and then of course- Nevada and the inevitable "lose all your money in Vegas" scenario; B.O. lived in Vegas in his car for a month after trying to build a bank-roll on poker- while I was a wanderer in my own city living in an abandoned building; We ride-shared 6 people deep from Milwaukee to California; Snuck on a greyhound bus and ended up getting kicked off in Chicago; Lived in a Le Sabre on Fulton St. in San Francisco; camped in the lowest valley's among the Mendocino red-woods only to flee from hash-peddling oakies; Slept along the Pacific shore in Arcata, and Baby-sat a week or two in Eugene OR; We ran ourselves flat broke in Portland, only for me to get an excellent cooking job in a brewery which allowed us to pay N'stay in various backyards for over a month; Spent a weekend in Colorado, and a few days partying with the college kids of Iowa State while traveling from Portland with a newfound friend in the circus... We even failed to hop a train on two different occasions- both while heavily intoxicated on my home-made apple wine, and both of which ended in uniquely hilarious tragedies. And still, there's soooo much more to be said, and more importantly, soooo much more to see.
I've been working out of a camper at my parents house in Wind Lake, 40 minutes away from Milwaukee. Soon after my performance in the Milwaukee 2010 Performance Art Showcase, I got an offer to create a series of 7 short documentaries for IN:SITE, a Milwaukee arts organization. Although I'm enjoying myself and rounding up some new equipment, the project is seriously beginning to get in the way of my personal efforts in writing and art. I'm making some connections in Chicago, and see myself getting closer to film in order to make some cash- but at this point I've entirely ignored my student loan dues, and they are getting REALLY pissed off. To put it shortly, I need to get moving again. All the opportunities here are enticing, but in the end, I have some pretty substantial goals that require new places. I plan on re-kindling my writing practice at once, pounding out four new 4'x4' works that I have prepped, and keeping an aggressive pace at the video work, so I can be done within a month or so. I'm looking at getting my Masters degree within the next two years, and possibly joining Americorps, to do some volunteer work while keeping loans off my back. I could be anywhere, doing anything, so alas, the journey continues!
Chassy is going to see about getting a quick job for the month, to generate a little more cash. She has some important professional goals in terms of building a resume for her career in Graphic Design. Since we don't plan on being in Milwaukee primarily, she has been frustrated about what to do while we are stuck here. Our solution, seems to pair up with B.O.'s upcoming plans...
B.O. has been through very much since we departed from him in Portland months ago. After battling with some serious personal issues, he decided after a few problematic weeks in MN, that he needed to make some changes. He moved down to Milwaukee with us again, and decided that he wanted to go to a school in Oakland, CA called "Oaksterdam," that specializes in teaching every aspect of medical marijuana, from cultivation, to economy, bio-chemistry, to patient care, to law.
B.O. being as insanely motivated as he is, has since gotten 2 jobs, and I'm pleased to say that by next week, he will have his entire tuition paid for! The 2 month program begins around January, and as of now, my and Chassy's plans are to go out there with him, and see if CA should be where Chassy gets a foot in with Graphic Design. So, round and round and round we go, where we'll end up- NOBODY KNOWS!
Luckily for everyone, that I've paced my blog work! I'm back again to keep the pages filled with the MILES of content that are still dwelling in our thousands of photo's and never-ending, yet-to-be-told stories. Keep on following, we're still here, working hard to keep the journey moving. And if you haven't already, BECOME A FOLLOWER! It takes no time, costs nothing, and its on the Right side of your screen this very second. DO IT!
Until We Meet Again....
Joseph R. Reeves