|Reminiscing over raspberries
||[Jul. 11th, 2006|12:08 am]
I lived in Snellville, Ga- a suburb of Atlanta- for 20 years of my life. I did well in high school, was captain of the scholar's bowl team, excelled academically, earned an honor thespianship my senior year, and hated just about everything I witnessed in social interaction among people my age and the public at large. I went to college after graduating just like a good, obediant cog in the workings of McLife. Then something happened, Alex died and Dinosaur Johnson began to creep through the bloody cracks within. The tension that'd been boiling inside for years, the constant voice in my head whispering "Remember the fun you had when you were young," my own heart struggling not to burst every time I thought of life elsewhere- these all made me long for the great adventures I had with my brother when we were wee lads. Days were spent at Georgia State contemplating what I would later find to be true: that I would learn more by edjucating myself and getting out and experiencing the world. My nights were captured by phantasmagoric dreams of sweaty-palmed, dry-mouthed excitement, wet dreams of adventure on the open road. I watched the movies "Foxfire" and "Mad Max" until the tape inside wouldn't play anymore, and immersed myself in the literature about thrill seeking that didn't involve the wretched depression of Bukowski or the torpid intoxication of Kerouac. I fell in love with the word ronin.
One day, I packed all of my clothes and a bike into my long-since-dead car, I quit my corporate job, I hugged and kissed my mother, and I began travelling the US. My first stop was D.C. How could I fight this ridiculous barbarity if I hadn't ever even seen its place of origin? After Washington, I drove to Philadelphia, spending some of the most eye opening nights of my life hanging out with punks in abandoned oil refineries and sleeping in my car. Then on to Allentown, home of the Pirates' Cove, where I cut my anarachist teeth on the teachings and positive, welcoming generosity of arguably the nicest kids I've ever met. Then Bethlehem for veganism, then New Jersey for a love affair, then home for the holidays, then Uniontown and hard labor camaraderie, Pittsburgh for indefatigable love, Nola for celebration, Buffalo the vegan stew that got away, Niagara Falls the tyrannical Canadian troopers, and a thousand other places that made me into the hardened Tolkien-esque rover I was for a year.
And now I find myself fixed in Chicago. I was stationary in Athens during the cultivating of my daughter, and I found the time there enjoyable mostly because I thought I'd just pick up and whisk myself away again when It was all over. And I did, to some extent, taking a bike trip from Athens to Mississippi with a friend, then hitching the rest of the way to Chicago. But that brief transition was with full knowledge that I would come to Chicago to be with the one I love most to spend a year in a single city saving money and preparing for the future. I didn't know that, all difficulties and strife aside, I would discover many new things about myself.
See, when I was travelling people would ask me how long I wanted to continue. I'd most often say, "Until I've seen it all." I considered myself a traveller, a vagabond whose home was wherever he dared illegally lay his head. I was a traveller and travelling was my life. But I learned so much on the road, I became such a different person: a dumpster diver, a cyclist, a voice for the oppressed, a makeshift mechanic, a squatter when I must, a rebel fighting the empire, a lovingly smelly anarchist, a man who wants to devote his life to higher thought and direct action to imrpove what needs fixing. Let Dinosaur Johnson tell you, brothers and sisters, it's hard to do all of these things when you're planning to be a traveller- and nothing but a traveller- for the rest of your days.
But after lounging in a gazebo with my Chorus and Confidant, I realize now my mistake in the way I used to think. As I said, I was a traveller, travelling was my life. If one decides travelling is the sum of one's life, what room is there for ideology, for ethics, for action? There's none, and by limiting myself to always being on the road and thus never having a base for rest, recuperation, and devilish lucubration, I assured that I did very little positive work while tearin' up the countryside.
I've learned now that I can work a minimum of hours at a job that's not too loathesome, all the while informing my custies that they shouldn't buy our merch because it's made by little fingers in poor countries. I can still do good work AT work, and with the money I earn, I can not only have a place to live/hide out, but I can also fund various projects, I can travel to other cities for actions legal and otherwise and to network, and I can better equip myself with materials to fight such overwhelming odds. I don't intend to buy frivolous crap, and I know that living in one place for a year- ONE city for a whole year!- won't change the person I am. I can still travel whenever I want or have reason to, I can still hitch and hop freight, but I don't have to confine myself to such strictly mobile forms of existence.
I can be a better activist by being stationary at times and having a home base, and I can be a better traveller if I know I can live happily if I sometimes stay put wherever I land.. I've been born anew, again, and this time the revelation has left me a more complete and more competent warrior; better able to fight, yes, but better able to wait and plan as well. Thanks, oh Timeless One, for helping me discover.
See y'all on a dusty road, and we'll sing 'till the sun leaves the sky.