25 Traveling Terms Every Green Horn Should Know

Road Dog- A person who accompanies you in travel. You may have met them 10 years ago, 10 days ago, or 10 minutes ago. Learn to love the smell of your road dog and they will learn to love the smell of you. My first road dog was an Irish girl named Roxanne I met November 2012 in New Orleans. Over a course of three days, drunkenly convinced seven other travelers from the Indian House Hostel to accompany us to Florida. The caravan lasted two weeks, sometimes losing each other for days at a time, and finally catching up in the Florida Keys

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Green Horn- a newbie traveler. One can usually spot a Green Horn by the latest and greatest pack/gear, spotless clothes, and a Vende Soy Carmel Macchiato in hand. Be pleasant to a Green Horn…you were once one too. I look at pictures of my Green Horn days…a watch, straightened hair, nail polish, size 1, and makeup.

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Pack- a backpack on crack. The pack is filled with a traveler’s necessities, trinkets hanging from every strap, and covered in dirt collected from the roads of America. When filling a pack, first walk two miles before beginning your adventure. This came from personal experience as I had walked in Frisco for 6+ hours with 65 pounds of gear, which was later unloaded to a train hopper at a Target parking lot in Oakland.

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Trinkets- My favorite word! Small items one accumulates on the road to which he/she believes has value….but most of the time it’s worthless shit. Items vary from stones, beads, string, precious metals, anything shiny, and/or any type of ground score. I pride myself on my collection and have a terrible time getting rid of anything. My favorite trinket? I have a friend who gifted me a wire wrap made to look like The Tree of Life. I have known him since high school, having live din the apartment below me. Davey and I spent much time talking about our dreams after school. Before I ventured out in The Van, he gave me a quick mentoring in traveling. I hold him and my pendant near and dear to my heart.

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Ground Score- An item one finds on the ground; food, money, gear, trinkets. The feeling one gets when ground scoring is comparable to Christmas morning. One must ensure to scream, “Ground Score!”, when picking up an item. I once ground scored a boyfriend, no joke.

Rainbow- an international group dedicated to true “hippy living”, having been around since the early 70’s. Anyone from Babylon can visit their regional and national gatherings always held in a national forest. I recently attended my first Rainbow Gathering in Florida and was pleasantly surprised by the sense of community and was quite heartbroken to return to Babylon.

Babylon- A reference used by Rainbow while in the woods to describe civilization outside of the gathering. When I first heard this at A-Cola, I wasn’t entirely sure what Babylon meant, so I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to come off as a Green Horn. Over a few days, I was able to put two and two together…and let out a giggle.

Babylon tickets- Another Rainbow reference, used to describe currency. There is no use for Babylon Tickets at Rainbow Gatherings as everything is free/traded/bartered. Once again..I was able to put two and two together and giggle.

Trade Circle- A special place at a Rainbow Gathering where one trades and barters trinkets. One can score a turtle shell backpack, shiny pennies, or yesterday’s underwear. No Babylon Tickets allowed.

Skank- a handkerchief a train hopper wears around his/her neck. Primarily used to cover the face from smoke and/or soot and prided on their dirtiness. I own two skanks; one found wrapped on tree in the woods behind a Dairy Queen at the Alabama/Florida State Line and another, a small yellow reminder of a terrible one night stand. Mine are clean as I have yet to train hop.

Train hopper- a traveler whose mode of transportation is by sneaking onto train cars. Train hoppers can usually be spotted by their skanks, dirty bibs, and even face tattoos . I once saw a train hopper in Oakland with a walkie talkie around his neck, which was fitted into a crocheted case on the same frequency as the train yard. The same train hopper was the lucky one who crossed paths with me immediately after Frisco and my 6+ hour walk with Ziggy and my 65 pound pack.

White Box- leftovers carried by restaurants patrons. One can politely ask for their white boxes and 75% of the time, the patrons will say yes. This is a much better way to score food than dumpster diving. When I was with Fuck You Bob in New Orleans, he white boxed some frog legs. “This is some really good fish…..”

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Dumpster Dive- sorting through/climbing into garbage can in search for food or booze. Grocery stores are reliable places, especially ones found in yuppie towns. Dunkin Donuts throws away all the donuts into one single garbage bag every night, for all you sweet tooths. Any fast food restaurant is impressive if one sifts through every exterior garbage can. I once ate fried pickles at a McDonald’s in Blountstown, Florida.

Freegan- a traveler who NEVER buys food. Freegans always dumpster dive, white box, or ground score their meals. If your road dog is a Freegan and you chose to purchase your meals, do so in secrecy. A Freegan will drool with your every bite and pick your crumbs from below you. We once had to throw a Freegan out in Jacksonville, Florida because he crawled under the table to pick up the onions which had fallen off our hamburgers.

Fly a Sign- A piece of cardboard held by a traveler describing their wants/needs, often in a witty way. If you wish to fly a sign, always keep a permanent marker on hand and you can locate cardboard behind any fast food restaurant. My first sign was made on my first day of ever hitchhiking. It read, “This Is The Sign You Have Been Waiting For”. Try to included peace signs, hearts, or any small drawing. I’ve seen…..” Too Ugly To Prostitute, Too Honest To Steal”, “Instant Karma Sold Here”, “Jesus Was Homeless Too”.

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Spange- to ask a person for spare change. Every traveler has a particular way they spange, yet all come with the same results. One can spange very well at Wal-Mart, high traffic roads, and gas stations. My first spange experience happened in Atlanta after I picked up a very random group of rainbows, a bicyclist with a dog named Maggie, and a first time traveler(now a dirty kid). They spanged from Atlanta-Chicago-Denver…took two fucking weeks goddamn it. I myself don’t spange, but can see why travlers go this route as it is quite effective to get from Point A to Point B.

Busking- playing a musical instrument for money, a socially more acceptable way of spanging. One can busk virtually anywhere yet will find city centers work best. A busker may sometimes score a meal, a phone number or even get housed up. In Frisco, I met the most attractive busker I had ever seen. What is it with a man and a guitar…what’s a girl to do?

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Housed Up- when a weary traveler is invited into a home to kick their feet up. Usually means a warm shower, comfy bed, and home cooked meal. I use “usually” because well…it also usually ends in a great story for your friends. I call these “driveway escapes”. ALWAYS have the house cleaner than before you arrived and even leave a trinket. I once was housed up for a week at a condo in Pompano Beach, Florida and blessed with four star meals, hot yoga sessions, and the bill footed at the dry cleaners.

Squat- an abandoned building/house where all travelers/dirty kids/oogles can go to sleep/shit/eat/leave their packs. I’ve heard fairly tales of squatters actually getting their squat kicked downed to them by the building/house owners.

Hotey- tough one right….a hotel. A hotey is highly desired as there is an unlimited supply of hot water, trashy television, no one to kicking you to wake the fuck up, and breakfast. I first heard the term hotey after picking up some kids leaving a gathering who had been in the woods for months. I can go a week without a shower, some of these cats went months.

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The Tree- Outside “Check Point Charlie’s” in New Orleans, one will come across a great tree with many travelers below at any given time. The tree lies on neutral ground, which means for anyone familiar with Napoleon Law, the 5-0 can’t fuck with you. Anything goes. My first visit to The Tree was Halloween 2012. I found a couple of dirty kids in The Quarter or much rather, they found me. We sat beneath The Tree with thirty plus other oogles and passed around a bottle of, Jameson. Look up the history behind Check Point Charlie’s… ;-)

Schwilly- a traveler who enjoys drinking and/or is a complete fucking alcoholic. Schwilly’s will drink at any time of the day, for no particular reason. Spange money is often used to quench a swills thirst. Swilly’s are not entertaining once the booze is gone. I enjoy a Swilly’s company, they often have a lot to say, and quite alarmingly, it makes perfect sense.

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Thumb it- to stand at a road, intersection, or off ramp with your thumb out soliciting a ride. Always have a smile on your face when thumbing it and I find it even helps to do a little dance. Use your gut when catching a ride and remember you don’t have to agree to jump into every car who offers a ride. My first hitchhiking experience was in Colorado after The Van had crashed. It took me 3 hours to get from Silverthorne back to Breckenridge….15 miles…in two feet of snow.

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Kick down- when someone presents you with money, clothes, food, booze, etc. Appreciate each and every kick down because well…it’s free shit. Share if you can to those who are blessed with terrible karma and never receive any type of kick down. I was told of an Oogle who was flying a sign and got kicked downed a goddamn truck. STD’s and staph infections don’t count.

Gas jug/jugging- picture spanging but solely for gas. When traveling in a vehicle, one can walk around at a gas station with a five gallon jug asking those at the pump to put in a bit of gas. Try to not stay at a gas station for longer than ten minutes, this is usually when the gas attendant notices and kicks you out. I personally have never gas jugged, yet have reaped the benefits after running out of gas with some Rainbows somewhere in Alabama.

So what’s an Oogle? You tell me…

William Spanks. Life. Death.

I’m having lunch with Private William Spanks, beneath a century old, budding Oak tree in Magnolia, Mississippi. His comrades surround us, their shadows pointing East due to the late afternoon sun. As I sit Indian-style eating my sandwich, I’m questioning how I can be so comfortable among these gentlemen. You see, these soldiers are fatalities of the Civil War. They’re dead.

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As a child, and current to this day, outings with my father often included visits to long forgotten cemeteries.

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We played games; who could locate the oldest tombstone, the most comical last names, and the youngest child. I’ve been to more cemeteries than I can count and have had lunches, just as this one, with some of the most famous people in the world.

To some, these outings may strike a bit odd, but once you have walked the graves of the departed, one will feel the peace which washes over you, as it does to me. A quiet unlike any other and an appreciation for life. The only eerie factor is you are outnumbered by those who can no longer speak.

I recall a time, when I was terrified of death.  So much to do, so little time. I’ve witnessed an ex-lover carried out on a stretcher, dead from an accidental heroin overdose.

2409_519940195497_4885_a My grandparents, victims of cancer. Friends taken away from careless driving, drunk driving, or swerving to avoid a deer.

26434_106432712718783_5333715_nMy van is named after this woman here, “Kristin”.

I often wonder, did they regret anything in their lives? Would they have done anything differently? I ask myself these same questions, going back in to time to moments I am neither proud nor fond of. I’ve done some very shameful acts, hurting not only myself, but those around me.

Recently, a friend I was traveling with questioned why I was so selfless. I have a moral vendetta, to make right for all I have done wrong, to which I will see through to the very end. Not only has my karma improved immensely, but the eyes of those I help, have more strength.

I was once completely convinced I would depart this Earth young and so many things to accomplish. I no longer suffer from this ill way thinking, as I am certain I have genuinely lived and set free the person I once was.

So I ask you, did you make someone smile today without the need for personal gratification? Have you fulfilled all your desires? You have yesterday to reflect on, today to achieve greatness, and tomorrow to hope for. Tomorrow may never come, ask my friend, William Spanks.

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Seven Mile Bridge. Driveway Escapes. Bear.

I somehow left the keys. They say many make it to the seven mile bridge and turn around. I didn’t want to be one of them. I sat at Veteran’s Memorial Beach that morning, still contemplating what to do. Did I want to stay to prove everyone wrong, I could make it here? Or do I go and do what I do best, drive.

It was just around noon and there was a slight drizzle. I looked out onto the water, searching for an answer. Ironic it was as this was the same beach Zig & I had spent our first official day in The Keys. I had just bailed her out of doggy jail two months earlier in Miami. I knew the perfect place to bring her to celebrate us reuniting.

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A friend of mine, Mark The Weaver, watched me on this very day, the first day we met. He saw Zig & I run like a pack of wild wolves into the water. I remember the day, so elated to have my best friend back and be in one of the most sought out destinations in the world. Zig ran after me into the water, barking as I dove head first into those waters.

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I saw Mark not too long before I left. He told me,” You know, I don’t ever tell people how to go about their lives. Yet I feel compelled to tell you something Hunny. You have been abused , it’s all over your face.” I knew he was right, my soul had withered a bit since my time in The Keys. Why though?

The Keys is a different world, The Conch Republic is what the locals say. People find themselves planted there for many reasons, yet each one finds themselves at a dead end road. I enjoyed the sense of community; waving to Hippy Dan as he strolled down the bike path along US 1, the withered  man in front of Winn Dixie reading a new book every day, the bums in front of Dion’s Chicken every morning, the crazy women at 2AM at Coconuts, and we can’t forget about the Ramrod swimming hole… ”The Hole”. All these characters mold the islands, without them there wouldn’t be a place for the weird to be just that… weird.

I shouldn’t have had a difficult time swimming with the fish, yet as the days went on, I found myself drinking more like a fish. I was lonely and worn down, almost 500 days on the road and I was cashed out. The perverts, lack of women to chat with, and abundance of single men didn’t lighten the mood either. My driveway “escapes” became a weekly endeavor.

I had what I call a nervous breakdown one morning. A pounding headache as a result from the night before only aided to my moment of insanity. I was parked in Keith & Tarp’s driveway absolutely crawling in my skin. An image of crawling in my bed at my father’s was the only warming thing I felt even with the sun pouring into the van.

I was teetering on a dangerous edge by staying, back into my old ways. I knew it was time to move on, but had nothing to get push me back onto the lip of sanity until I met Bear. We had agreed to meet at Veteran’s beach that morning. A rusted navy blue Volvo pulled alongside me and I watched as three guys popped out. I wasn’t sure which one he was, as we had never met, a moment you must get used to meeting people off Craigslist.

I could smell Bear from five feet away. His tattered yellow shirt had seen better days and his dreads could have used a good wash. “Hi, I’m Bear.” He had a killer smile and I giggled as I shook his hand.  He was exactly what I needed and if it wasn’t for him showing up, I may have never had the balls to leave.We took a few pictures with his departing friends and piled his guitar, pack, and random trinkets travelers carry with them on the road.

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As we speeded up over the infamous hump on the seven mile bridge, I remembered why I live this way, this up and down lifestyle. I was back on the road with yet another stranger with no particular destination in mind. I became me again in one flicker of a moment; the traveler, the vagabond, the transient, the girl who lives in her van. The world was ahead of me and I could do with whatever I wanted with it. I looked over at Bear sitting in the passenger seat knowing he was feeling the same thing.   The road was our home, this is where we belonged.

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Suitcases.Telephone.The Keys.

I pulled a tiny black suitcase behind me, the wheels squeaking as I continued down the balcony of my parent’s first floor apartment. They gawked through the living room window as they watched their eldest daughter leave home. I was four and headed for Grandma’s.

I don’t recall this particular memory as I have only seen a photo of that day. What I can say is, this wasn’t the first or last time I ran away from home. As I shuffled into my teenager years, it no longer became funny, but illegal. I was an expert at running; pack everything and go.

My hair was whipping in the wind as we headed over the Seven Mile Bridge, crashing into the tears streaming down my face.  A war was going on between my mind and my heart which sent me into a temporary state of insanity.  I was crawling in my skin and felt the only way to cure the sensation was to go, to just drive. I was leaving The Florida Keys, headed West.

I recall only one time ever sobbing like a little bitch during a departure. It was October 23, 2012, the day I crunched out of my father’s driveway in The Van. Why did I leave then? I molded The Van into a home, while also tearing down a four and a half year relationship. I was twenty four years old and not a fucking clue on what to do with my life. All I had was a campervan, a broken heart , Ziggy, and $300. What would any normal person do?

That was almost a year and a half ago… Jesus. Where does the time go, honestly? The original plan was to travel around for three months, clear my head, go back to Chicago, and settle down.  Somehow, somewhere along the way, I said fuck it. For the first time, I felt purpose in my life. My eyes lay upon a whole new world, a beautiful one. Here I was, laughing and smiling with complete strangers. Taking them in like family, like my own brothers and sisters.

 

Mom always told me to never talk to strangers. Ma, I think you were wrong on this one.

Something happened down here in the Lower Keys and it took me driving 50 miles away from Big Pine to figure it out. I’m a strong believer in driving to figure out whatever shit you have rattling up in your brain. All problems, I mean ALL problems will be solved behind the wheel. You need to be one with your thoughts, no distraction from the outside world, just the tunneling of the road which lay ahead.

As I inched closer to the mainland, I couldn’t shake the feeling of a force tugging me back. With every mile, the energy became overwhelming. You hippy freak…force….energy? I never believed in any of those things, but after you learn to just let the universe in, these feelings become undeniable. I couldn’t take it anymore. I veered off into a Tom Thumb and threw The Van in park. I told myself I was only going to make a sandwich and figure out the next course of action.

An hour goes by, the sandwich is merely crumbs and I’m sweating my tits off. Why the hell was I still sitting there? My phone breaks the conversation of me and my racing mind. It was my seventy eight year old friend John…..

“Hey, you still around?”

“No, I left this morning.”

“Damn, I was going to ask you to take me to the airport on Friday. I’ll pay ya.”

I’m thinking, are you fucking kidding me right now? He couldn’t have called two hours earlier or told me yesterday when I saw him at the swimming hole? There is no way I am going back..no way….

“John, I’ll do it.”

“ Don’t worry about it hunny, just had an idea of giving you the money rather than the shuttle.”

“No, I want to. I have to pick up my last paycheck from Springer’s on Friday anyways.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to drive all the way back for me.”

“John it’s okay. I wouldn’t do something I didn’t want to do. I’ll take you.”

“Okay, call me Thursday or I’ll see you at the swimming hole.”

I hung up the phone and began crying & laughing at the same time. It wasn’t time to leave..

So why did I attempt to leave The Keys in the first place? This is going to be a bit difficult for me as I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m not perfect….Ha! From the moment I arrived down here, the men were on me like a cheap suit and getting me drunk. I was the new chick in town and everyone wanted the piece of the pie. Being on a small island, the whispers about me throughout town was like a bad game of telephone. Having lived in various small towns throughout the Chicago suburbs, it wasn’t the first time I had been a victim of gossip. Talk is cheap and so were the beers.

One of the hardest things one could ever do, is to spend time in solitude. You learn so much about yourself; the good, the bad, and the ugly. What I discovered about myself was how giving I could be, how sensitive I really am, and my weakness for charming men. These traits all crashed together with such force, I felt as if I had detonated a bomb within my core. I was no longer centered, yet vulnerable and alone. Everything I had concealed from the world was now expelled in every direction. My shell had been exposed, exposing me raw.

I peeled out of The Avenues as fast as I could. Hours later, along US 1 I discovered this: You are not running from anyone or anything, you are running from YOU. Gold mine.  What seemed to be happening is anytime I let the world in, I am also opening the door for agony. I essentially became a loner as this seemed to be the only way to avoid having to lick my wounds. I’m not saying this is solely what I have been doing for the past year and a half, but I would be lying if I said I was just driving aimlessly through America.

The past few days, I felt as if I was climbing a mountain which didn’t have a top. I was rummaging through every detail of my life attempting to make some type of sense out of it. The Van has been my cocoon in all of this, as I have morphed into a completely different human being. My  dilemma now is what does she want? What will make her happy? I have not a fucking clue, but you know what? My feet are exhausted from running and I see a chair just up the road calling my name. I’m going to kick up my feet, let my dogs rest for awhile.

 

 

Beamers.Rockets.Balls.

After purchasing The Van, I spent a year and a half tearing her apart and turning this hippy missile into a home.

I actually contemplated buying a BMW until I discovered The Van down Route 6 in Marseilles, Illinois. Could you imagine…I cringe a bit.

That year was a pivotal time for me and the crossroads of my life. I was just beginning to get my feet wet in the waters of adulthood, inching ever so slowly, but never able to fully commit to the plunge. I know this is a bit cliché to say, but a voice deep within my subconscious kept me at bay. Don’t do it, don’t you dare keep that job/marry that man/buy that house/have that baby/write that on your calendar/buy that…”

It was the oddest thing, it truly was. I spent a great portion of my youth and early adult years, just so utterly lost. I was on the launching pad of life, the countdown getting shorter, and I was sure I would blast off into space. But what I knew deep down, was shooting up right then and there into the universe with so many things left to do would eventually bring me crashing down.

 

You see, the rocket is you.   The fuel would be the things which keep you going; your wants, your needs, the things you wish to accomplish. If you fill the rocket up with fals hopes and dreams, one will eventually exhaust all energy to keep moving and spiral back down. If you know anything about rockets, they never land back at the launching pad. You may never be able to start over and crash right back into theose waters we were once so eager to plunge into.

So here I am, looking up at the sky, wondering if I was making the right decision. I was beginning to feel safe, the routine my life had become was a bit warming. I looked at The Van from my father’s driveway, still so much left to to do. Here are a few thoughts which crossed my mind:

-Just a little more cash

-I have to visit “blah,blah,blah”

-One more weekend at the hole in the wall with the people who I call friends..

Family parties…

Maybe he will eventually love me

After the spring/fall/summer/winter…

This job could be a career

I said to myself, “Fuck it.”

I went through all my belongings, compressed them into three storage bins, and handed them to my mother. I often did this when heading out on the road, it wasn’t the first time I had left home, yet I knew this time would be  distinct. I had conditioned my mother to gracefully take these boxes. “I’ll be okay Ma, I can take care of myself.” She always worried, especially when I didn’t call. When I don’t call, it means something is going on and I have never been able to lie to her. So by not calling, I was avoiding telling her the situation completely. Love you Ma.

 

I also burned a lot of shit. Ladies, what is the only reason which leads us to dowsing items in gasoline and lighting a match to them? Yes, I was the resentful girlfriend burning every picture and anything attached to the relationship.

I sat on the couch in my father’s living room chain smoking cigarettes the whole morning, a trait I am sure I acquired from my late grandmother. I had no urge to have anyone present to wave me off. I wanted to depart in a quiet manner and I did as I put The Van in gear and crunched out of the driveway. I cried like a pansy from the moment I threw The Van in gear and the whole route to Magnolia, Mississippi.

What I’m trying to get around to is you are the ultimate factor in how your life pans out. We find ourselves at forks in the road in which fate turns its head. It’s you baby, all you.

Right now, I’m sure whoever is reading this, is either sixty years old really wondering when life had passed them by, a wife who never visited the vineyards of Italy, a twenty-something stuck at the crossroads, or someone who is sitting in their van watching the rain leak through the smashed in driver’s side door.

It’s never too late, for anyone of you. You are alive, better than most people. As for the van dwelling freak, you smell, go take a shower.

GROW SOME FUCKING BALLS

The End.

Love.Sex.Tuna

(This entry was written a few weeks ago)

I threw the Heineken in the mini fridge, grabbing one for each of us. I plopped down in the bed opposite him, watching him out of the corner of my eye. I took a swig of my beer, a weak attempt to conceal the smile beginning to spread across my face.

I met Steven just a few days before, both of us posting up at a campground in East Lake, North Carolina. I should have been in New York, but somehow found myself in the Outer Banks. I’ve come to find the road is a sneaky bitch, always sending me somewhere other than I had intended.

I was at a truck stop on the Virginia-Maryland border a week before, contemplating if I should continue to the my destination of New York. Everything inside of me was screaming to not continue on. I was headed to see a friend for her birthday. We had met six years prior, she posting an ad on Craigslist for a personal assistant in New Orleans. A week later, my apartment was packed & on a plane with no intent on returning to Chicago.

The rain was continuous the entire way from West Virginia, making the mood of my decision making a tad depressing. I sat at that truck stop for two hours, studying the map. So if I didn’t want to go to NYC, then where? South I decided. I had two states to knock off my list, The Carolinas. I was dying to dip my feet in the ocean & the image of me basking on a beach was seductive. I found myself throwing The Van in drive and headed the complete fucking opposite direction. (Can you please say direction like die-wreck-shin, I love when people say it that way…ha. Back home we say der-ection)

“When are you going to stop?”, Stephen curiously asks me.

I have been confronted with this question so many times, it often gets irritating. even more now that I am verging on a year of this lifestyle. “What’s your goal/mission?”, is another one I get. Why does everything have to have a purpose? Why can’t everyone just let things….be? We are so fucking petrified of the unknown, throw away the calendar man!

I answer every time with an , “I don’t know.” Always with a smile on my face because well, it excites me to not know. I felt a bit ignorant giving Stephen the same answer I have for everyone else. Stephen was in the OBX working as a tuna fisherman, saving the dough to put himself through school, pursing a degree in chemical engineering. I was a bit envious of him, so much commitment he was putting into his life as to make himself a better one.

“You are so intelligent, you should go back to school.”

I was dumbfounded. School? Me? An image of me in the seasons newest outfit sitting in an auditorium jotting down my professor’s every word, rolled through my mind. A life I chose to not live many years ago. Out of nerves, I began unraveling my life story. I wasn’t looking for pity, for once I felt okay with my past. Okay enough to be explaining to an absolute stranger why I am the way I am.

I really don’t think I have to explain why we were both in a hotel room, but if you must….

My heart still mangled from a toxic relationship and he having been at sea for eighteen days, we both really needed to get laid. Love and all things involved, is quite complicated on the road. Always moving, saying a goodbye that proves to never get any easier. We spent four days getting drunk, making love wherever and whenever we could, inserting laughs in between. For once in a long time, I had completely let myself go, enjoying the moment. And let’s face it, an attractive man peeling off my clothes on a secluded beach was just fucking great.

I had been burdened by my previous partner’s presence in my life. I had wasted so much energy attempting to make him understand me and refusing to accept  our relationship was unhealthy. I wasn’t able to be myself around him, he always picking at everything about me. I believe he was a bit embarrassed by my gypsy ways, yet secretly envious at the same time. Whatever the case, it has ended, thank fucking god. I feel lighter, the weight of our shitshow relationship off my shoulders.

I looked around the room, seeking my clothes Stephen had ripped off. There was his shirt on the tacky reading chair next to the bed. I hurriedly threw it on and pranced across the room to fetch fresh beers. I passed by the mirror, accessing myself. My hair was a complete mess, black mascara ringing my eyes, and the beginnings of cellulite on my ass.

“You look hot in that shirt, keep it.”

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Startled, I turned around and slipped back into the bed with him. It had been a long time since I had let anyone see so much of me, inside and out. I felt like a teenager again, all giddy the new boy in school asked to me to the dance.

I’m sitting here writing this in the same shirt, still smiling. I shouldn’t be, my hard drive fried last week from an open window during a storm, $60 in gas came seeping out of a hole in my gas tank, and I have $10 in my pocket. For some reason, I know everything will be okay. I feel I get handed these situations to make me stronger. I somehow have to pull myself out of every predicament, coming out even more tenacious.

I know why the road sent me here. I was more lost than ever, feeling slightly down. A lonely fisherman from Alabama pulled me out of a rough spot. I feel like myself again, confident and beautiful. I’m not going to lie, I shed a tear watching Stephen pull away to head back home. He got me thinking to the question I didn’t have the answer to.

“When are you going to stop?”

I have always wanted to be loved and reciprocate that feeling ten fold. One can not love, without having love for oneself. Somewhere on the road this past year, I had forgiven myself. I placed myself in terrible situations, out of lack of respect and ignoring the demons within. They’re all gone now, burned to a crisp and a gorgeous phoenix has risen from their ashes. She looks upon the hell below, spreads her wings and takes flight.

My journey will end when I find love, the one to sweep me off my feet, or in my case, my tires. I’m well aware I have just opened a door for marriage proposals…ha! There’s someone out there who will accept me for all the good and the bad. A man who won’t attempt to clip my wings or tame the lioness. Every woman deserves a happy ending, it has taken this long for me to realize I am one of them.

So here’s to the ultimate journey in life….LOVE

“Someone told me there’s a girl out there, with love in her eyes, and flowers in her hair..”

Houdini. Nerd Glasses. Steve. Butterflies.

I disappeared, no phone call, nothing. He stayed up all night, wondering where I was. The unknown of my whereabouts took a toll, he decided in the wee hours of the morning, to never speak to me again.

I emerged the next afternoon, shaking as the phone was ringing. Normally, I wouldn’t have bothered to call, knowing I had fucked up yet again. To my surprise, he answers.

“Steve?”…..quivering…on the verge of tears…

“Yea, what do you want?”….pissed…hurt…trying to be tough…what is it with this girl..

“I’m sorry for not calling, I had a long night.”…terrible excuse…stupid…stupid girl…

“Yea I know, where were you?” honestly concerned…so glad to hear her voice…still pissed…

“I don’t know, please don’t be mad, I promise it won’t happen again. You want to hangout?” I can’t let it happen again….he’s too sweet…doesn’t deserve this…something about him

“Sure, I guess.”….. why do I always fall for the same crap…im bored though…and she likes to ride….too beautiful to stay inside.

This was a short telephone conversation four and a half years ago. The girl on the phone is me. The guy is Steve. You are wondering, where did she go? I will tell you, only if you promise to never throw it back in my face, but take it as a feat I have overcame. A struggle I worked on very tediously and is still on going to this day

I had just turned twenty one, you know, the age where you put on that party dress and slam shot glasses full of bottom shelf booze and energy drinks.

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I threw myself three birthday parties, cocky son of a bitch I was. At one gathering, I met a guy named(I’ll call him Drew). I had no idea who he was, but shit I didn’t recognize half the people there. Drew stood out because of the massive sling his arm was in. I can’t recall now how we actually started talking, I downed a few bottles of champagne that night.

We get to talking and discover we have something in common. Drew deals cocaine and well, I happened to be in the business of getting it in my nose. We went to the casino across the street, we gambled a bit. My friends decided the party girl had enough, through me in a back seat and took me home.

I found his number in my phone the next morning. May I add, I so elegantly still had on my dress and high heels. I discovered while undressing, one hundred dollars in my bra. Not to get off subject too much, but this was a reoccurring thing for me. I would get wasted and put shit down there…..women.

Anyways, not too long after, I call up Drew. Not to go to the movies, not to grab a beer. We were going to stay up all night and watch our noses fall off. As I’m writing this, I’m sick to my stomach. So disgusting, such a terrible time in my life. If you have ever done it, you know what I mean. The next day, you tell yourself never again. But then the days blur into one another and before you know it, you have been up for a week and there’s nothing left in your stomach to even take a shit.

That night, was my last. It was the middle of the afternoon and I had just woken up. My heart still fluttering, my mind racing trying to grasp one thought. You can’t think straight when you’re “geeked”. So many pointless conversations I’ve had…everyone trying to get everything on their mind all out at once.

Steve and I had been going to school together since 6th grade. He hung out with the skater/pothead/trouble makers/class clowns althoug he didn’t really fall in any of these categories.  I on the other hand, read a new book almost everyday and prided myself on the sticker(a new one for every occasion) I put on my glasses. We never once talked, even up to the time I left our high school the middle of sophomore year.

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Fast forward, naturally, I’m at a bar…high as a kite. Steve’s brother spotted me and offered to buy me an Irish Car Bomb. We continued outside and smoked a cigarette.

“Hey, this is my brother Steve.” That hair….those eyes look so familiar…

“Hi.”….is that the girl who just punched the dude in the face for slapping her ass…

“I’m Anastassia.”….wait a minute…where do I know him from…

“Anastassia, I went to Ludwig with one.”…no…can’t be..

“Ha, that was me. What’s your last name?” not so nerdy anymore…right?

“(His last name here.).”…..where’s the sticker..

“Whoa dude, I haven’t seen you in forever.”….I’m getting old…

That day changed my life forever. We became inseparable, Thing 1 & Thing 2. Steve gave me an ultimatum: Quit the drugs or you will never see me again. No one had ever told me no or made me choose a path. Okay, I can do this. I can be “normal”.

Steve saved me, he gave me the gift of love. He always said I see the good in everything, yet he was the one who saw the good in me.

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I often think how long it would have taken for me to do one too many lines, a bag with something laced in it, in the wrong car getting pulled over. Where would I be now……alive?

We both were so different back then, we were young, the world at our feet. We fought like hell, yet fought for each other. Fighting is healthy, to an extent. Keeping everything bottled in never did anyone any good. No one understood us, shit, we didn’t know what the hell we were doing ourselves.

Our love took us to Arizona, the beaches of California, and now here, Morehead,Kentucky. Steve decided to come with me for a bit in The Van. When I bought the van a few years ago, it was meant for us. Our dream was to travel the land, see the world, hold hands at every ocean.

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Last year, we were constantly going at it. I look back now and realize we were starting to mold into different beings. His family is very conventional (They aren’t too fond of me anyways….opposite side of the tracks type of thing.), while mine, encourages  us to be who we are. I wouldn’t cave in to the “American Way.” Nope, not for me. Steve and I got into one last blow out, took me two days to pack The Van. I left.

Now, almost a year later, we have barely seen one another. Two beings who once stood tall next to one another, sit on opposite sides of the room like strangers. Who are we? Who are you? What have we become? Questions I don’t have the answers to. Answers which will only be produced with time. I know who I’m not, I can tell you that much.

As always, there are two sides to every story, everything must be taken with a grain of salt. I’m sure Steve sees it a completely different way. Naturally, as a woman, I must say he’s wrong. Have men not yet understood, we are always right? Why must we be the sensible ones, the boat that keeps us afloat, the one with all the solutions? I’ve come to realize, men are still wired to believe their women should be home with  a checkered apron on 24/7. I can only imagine if I have lived then, I would probably be shunned from society.

I never label myself as anything, wouldn’t say I have one profound trait. Others have coined freebird, free spirit, gypsy, hippy,bum, useless,lazy,…you name it. I am what I am, it is what it is. I was raised to think for myself, question everything, believe nothing. So lucky to have parents who pushed me from the nest in order to teach me to fly.

Yesterday, it was the third day the mac and cheese had been cultivating into a science project in my coffee pot. I was promised a clean one that morning, to make a fresh pot of coffee. I take a peek, Velveeta and shells caked to the sides. Not only was our relationship on the edge, our relationship in the van was as well. I’m not bashing Steve by any means, guys are slobs, fact. I’m a freak about the van, everything has its place. One act of chaos screws up the whole system. I also have a dislike for the slimy shit.

Without getting in too much unnecessary details, we have parted ways. Last I heard, he hitched(First time) to Cincinnati to catch a bus home. Van life just wasn’t for him, I don’t blame him. I was in the Wal-Mart parking lot this week with a tranny ready to kick out. Our clothes smelled like a college dorm room. The fridge quit working properly, there was a constant battle with flies. Our everyday life consisted of struggles to just stay alive.

Not often will I write a post like this one. I always write from the heart, but this one was more than that. A part of me will always be with Steve, whether I like it or not. He has a piece to my past, a portion of a life once lived. He saved me from myself and also was strong enough to let me go.

There will always be someone in your life whom you will never forget, “that one”. Although I am deeply saddened to say Steve and I may never see each other again, I am happy to have felt something, to have not shut out feeling and embraced the warmth of another heart.

I believe in fate, in what is meant to be. There is a reason why Steve and I were cruising down Route 6, on his Evo chopper a few years back, when I spotted The Van. The Van isn’t just my home or my vehicle, it’s my cocoon. One day, I will turn into a butterfly.

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