Every time I'm on the road, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly friendships are bonded and easily untied - especially as the need arises. There's something about traveling - being suspended from the day to day life of jobs, rent, bills, social obligations, community service, and established groups - that suspends the usual rules of how people interact with each other. Boundaries are lifted, discretion is almost an insult when making friends and forming temporary community from town to town.
I met Ann at the Amped Cafe in Homer, the day after I arrived in town. She's torn between career and more school, and which way to turn. There was an immediate bond that forged itself when she mentioned living in her truck, with a dog, and a Holly Golightly-style best friend that was halibut fishing with a new fling who "wore his mullet well," and thus, was currently unavailable.
What a coincidence! I'm also living in my truck.
Ann talked me into doing a reading at the open mike that night to get warmed up for the Concert on the Lawn that first weekend. The next morning, she met me at 8:30 to help me set up my booth and was in and out every so often, as the need arose.
Hey, she got into the concert for free. After the weekend, she felt comfortable enough to let me stay in a tent outside the mullet-fisherman's house and I had a place to reorganize my truck and make coffee in the morning.
At the Concert on the Lawn, a volunteer named Lia offered to let me park my truck and sleep in her van with a double bed if I needed a place to stay. She was widowed from the love of her life two years before, and she had done her fair share of adventuring in her youth. She was also letting a young man stay on her property that was on a spiritual path of Buddhism and daily meditation, so it was really no big deal. But she felt the need to assure me that she wasn't coming on to me and that the young man was not her lover.
When Ann moved on to Seward to look into a possible dream job, I gave Lia a call and after it took her a moment to remember me...
"Oh yes, the Scheherazade..." she said. (I totally dug that compliment) before giving me directions to her house.
She got a little reluctant about using her van, but I had a place to park, and a kitchen to make my coffee, and an outhouse to do my business, and my body was scrunched again into my truck's proportions.
She told me her story, and it turns we have much in common.
"We are all interconnected," she said.
If she ever comes to Juneau, of course she'll have a place to stay.
Ann's sweet dog was hit by a car on Saturday night and killed, so she left Seward by the time I got there and the Holly Golightly-style best friend met her in Anchorage. I doubt I'll see her much from here on out, but I have a couple of pieces of mail and her PO box key. I'm sure we'll keep in touch and all, but I suspect that Ann was my Homer friend.
So here I am in Seward to do table to table storytelling at the Resurrect Art Coffee House in Seward. I'm staying at the hostel and it feels like high luxury accommodation to be able to stretch out in sleep and have a place to put food.
This morning I was looking forward to coffee in the communal kitchen and writing in my journal when a born-again Christian wrecked the peace of my morning today when she had to tell me her story of giving her life to the Lord and how happy she was that she didn't have to be good enough to get into heaven, because God sent his Son to die on a cross for her. It's incredible that Christians never stop to think how sadistic and cruel that is...
I felt my energy being sucked dry...dammit, I knew I should have kept my distance.
When I couldn't take anymore of her being saved speeches, I got up and told her abruptly that I had gotten screwed by the same system that had done so much for her, and would she please stop. She said, yes of course and we made banal chit chat and wished each other a good day.
I'm only one thread on the tapestry of life, and these intersections are only a moment and some are a part of beautiful patterns and others...are not.
But then my thread runs on, as does theirs.
As Lia said, we are all connected.
PS: This is the 3rd email from my DIY booktour roadtrip that started in the summer of 2005. Ann was the first friend I made on the road, and her sweet dog, Wiley, snuggled against me one night when I was feeling lonely and sad, and maybe a touch of anguish. As amazing an adventure as this was, there were some things that were going on in my personal life that weighed heavy on my heart. I realized Wiley could feel my pain and was trying to comfort me. Later, it hurt so badly to hear that that sweet dog had been killed (frankly, from Ann's carelessness), that I couldn't bring myself to include that moment in this email at the time I wrote it. I regret that. So better late than never that Wiley was remembered as the awesome being that she was. I hope that dog reincarnated to a more responsible owner. Wiley also proved the point of how all of us are interconnected.
PPS: I never saw Ann again, and we didn't keep in touch.